Having a biblical worldview can sometimes ruffle the feathers of those around me that don\’t share that view. We have had a lot of discussion concerning banners (flags) lately, so I thought I would share the basic biblical principle of a banner. One which has heavily influenced the history of the world.
Banners are in fact symbols. In the case of scripture, beginning with Moses, the banner was a stick with a stone/gem fixed to the top that would \”catch the light\” of the sun. The glimmer that came from that stone/gem would announce to any people that could see it that there was another group of people, usually a military force, approaching them. From there it became cloth that would colorfully display who the group is that was approaching. One of the names of God is Jehovah Nissi– the Lord Our Banner. It was the second revelation of Gods character that he revealed to Israel in the wilderness (you can find it in Exodus). He was to be the banner under which all of Israel traveled and fought, lived in peace and prospered under, raised future generations under. God further broke down the concept, by placing the people (who were already under the banner of their tribe they came from) under four banners as he instructed them on where they were to have their tents surrounding the Tabernacle. Those four banners again were cloth with a figure on them colorfully depicting the name on the banner. In all of this, the BANNER ALWAYS REPRESENTED THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE WERE NOT THE BANNER. Those who were not Hebrew but longed to come in to be a part of Israel, didn\’t have one of the four banners to be under, but they did have the main banner to announce them as a part of the collective nation. God as the banner also had a system of laws and instructions on living with civility and treating one another. There were failures under the banner, but there was also solutions under that same banner. The Banner which was God represented the people, in every situation. There was a hope in him as the Banner. It was the symbol that people could look to and have confidence under its covering.
Enter the rest of history and you will see that each banner throughout each epoch of time is a representation of each group or nation. The banner was the people, the people were not the banner. Imagine the Olympics, the most prestigious position isn\’t the Gold medal winner, it was the one carrying the banner which represented the people. Imagine an Olympics where nobody is bearing the banner of their nation nor any athletes wearing that banner on their outfits…all people all dressed in what ever they choose, nothing to identify who they are. Where is the representation in that? Even Hollywood can write a story that understands this…There is an older movie called \”Glory\”. A movie about the civil war and the first \”Black regiment\” of the Northern Army of the \”United\” States (the nation was very divided at the time, thus the quotations). Towards the end of the movie, Matthew Broderick\’s character is the leader of that regiment, he is proud of the regiment. One of the most powerful things that happens is as they are about to enter battle, knowing that many if not all of them would not survive, He asks \”if this man should fall who will take his place?\” He is pointing to the man bearing the banner of their regiment/Northern states. One of the other men, a childhood friend, stands up boldly and says \”I will\”…to the cheers of the group. Again the banner represented the people, the people were not the banner.
What I am saying is that the flag which represents the nation is supposed to be a symbol under which disagreeing elements can dwell peacefully, because the banner represents the people, the people are not the banner. That is the point of the first verse of the National Anthem, it describes people of all walks of life fighting under the purity of what the banner is to represent…FREEDOM. The fact that we disagree and can get along is what makes this country great, the flag represents what is supposed to be the BEST of what this nation is!
As a citizen of the nation I believe that, to take a knee in prayer, even in protest is the right of the individual to do, its what that banner represents. Honoring the banner and those who fought for it is a high level of patriotism that, even in disagreement, recognizes the freedom that banner represents. The banner is the idea of what the nation could and should be. It is the one symbol of our nation that defines WHAT we are, not WHO we are. I\’m thankful that I live under the banner of the United States, and not the banner of another nation! I have however seen that this banner is merely a sub-banner to the one that I truly dwell under. While I am proud to be under a banner of freedom the represents the people of the United States, I am MORE PROUD that Jesus is MY TRUE BANNER and the freedoms I have come from HIM and no one else. How do we as the church respond? As a citizen, we honor the right of the people to do it even if we disagree. We hold one another accountable for their decisions as citizens, for that is the value of the integrity of our banner. But as a Christian who lives under the Banner of Jesus Christ, I proudly walk out GRACE, I bend a knee in prayer to God for solutions and to be a part of the solution and not the problems. There are greater dangers in walking away from Jesus as my Banner, then silent protesting what is wrong under the sub-banner of what is right.