Jonathan Isaac missed the mark on Friday and it had absolutely nothing to do with the national anthem.
It had everything to do with accountability or the lack thereof.
When the third year Orlando Magic forward decided to be the only player to stand for the national anthem and intentionally not wear a Black Lives Matter shirt before the team’s first restart game against the Brooklyn Nets, many unfair assumptions were made about the former lottery pick.
The right to kneel or stand during the anthem in this country is an individual right and so is wearing whatever T-shirt you want, whenever you feel like it. He is free to do as he pleases.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon both decided not to kneel as well for their own personal reasons. They did both wear Black Lives Matter shirts.
The problem with Isaac was not his stance but the meaning behind it. After the game, he was asked about his decision by Taylor Rooks, and Isaac delivered a message saying that he chose to go against his colleagues because of his relationship with Jesus Christ and because he didn’t feel like things like kneeling went hand in hand with caring for Black lives.
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is a devout Christian and he admirably supported his teammates by wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt which was nice. He cited his beliefs in support of teammate Dexter Fowler as the reason. “I’ll tell you this — as a Christian man, my job, first and foremost, is to love my neighbor, and to love my teammates,” he said.
I’m not the one that is going to be wrapped up in these grand gestures too much, especially when kneeling has now become so comfortable for everyone.
I’d much rather see money and resources donated to groups like the ACLU, NAACP, and any other group that helps improve the lives of minorities in this country than an individual put their knee on the ground for the show.
But that’s not what Isaac articulated in his response to Rooks.
“Each and every one of us, each and every day do things that we shouldn’t do, we say things that we shouldn’t say, we hate and dislike people we shouldn’t hate and dislike,” said Isaac. “Sometimes it gets into one where we point fingers about whose evil is worse and sometimes it simply comes down to whose evil is most visible.”
“When you look around, racism isn’t the only thing that plagues our society, that plagues our nation that plagues our world,” continued Isaac. “ I think coming together on that message that we want to get past not only racism but everything that plagues us as a society I feel like the answer to it is the Gospel.”
I realize this is a jacked-up world we live in and as a fellow follower of Christ, who has been proudly saved and filled with the Holy Ghost for more than a decade, I understand that it is not our mission to rank sins and it is not our duty as Christians to judge any other man or woman.
But what I also understand is that God believes in accountability.
It is not judgmental to hold society and a system accountable for the sins it has committed against a group of people. As people, and especially as Christians we should always be striving to create a better society for all of the people made in God’s image and likeness. In the Bible the book of Proverbs chapter 27, verse 17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
And in a moment where the world has seemingly been focused on trying to elevate society through the eradication of the evil sin that is systematic racism, it is counterproductive for people to divert the conversation away from trying to remedy this specific sin because they would rather focus on all sin.
Oppression has been ingrained into this country since its origin and has manifested itself for centuries. While many Christians today think that those iniquities are a thing of the past, they are wrong. They are still present today and reveal themselves through discrimination. Ezekiel chapter 18, verse 19 says, “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live.”
The only way this country cannot share the guilt of its forefathers is by doing what is “just and right” and keeping God’s decrees. And dismantling the systems of inequality that have disproportionately benefited your ancestors and deprived others is the right thing to do.
There are many other “plagues” in this society that we have to deal with, and there is no question about that. But what becomes dangerous is when you shift the focus on fixing one plague that hurts your neighbor because another plague is more comfortable to talk about. Defaulting to saying “we all fall short” is true but It doesn’t focus on how we as Christians can do our jobs of creating a more equal society.
Galatians chapter 6, verse two says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Everyone in this society has to take on accountability to fix the problems we face, especially Christians because it is in our guiding book. We can’t deflect or run away from fixing one problem at a time simply because there are many problems in our fallen world.
Isaac’s willingness to stand or wear a Black Lives Matter T-shirt is a minute detail in this situation, it’s his answer as to why he chose to act the way he did is what can’t be overlooked. Even though Isaac says he believes Black lives matter, his answer to the questions posed to him yesterday were tone-deaf and counterproductive to removing these evil and sinful systems of oppression that exist in our society.
As Christians, accountability is one of the main principles we should be preaching. And we can’t do that if we are refusing to address issues like systemic oppression head-on.
This isn’t a time to hide behind “other sins” or the fact that “we all fall short” we already know that. This is the time to cure the ills this country has created through its own sin.