Knee on the Neck or Knee at the Throne?
The Miami Police Answer!
A police officer callously snuffed out the life of George Floyd, who was a dedicated, growing Christian. That became the spark for the fire now raging. As one columnist put it, the state of race relations in our country had already turned America into a “tinderbox.”
The tinderbox exploded!
The map below indicates what transpired just last week: red dots mark cities where demonstrations took place; yellow shows where the National Guard was deployed.
The video images of mass gatherings full of anger and pathos—along with fires and destruction and looting—reveal a lot about the true “soul” of America. Our culture is profoundly, deeply wounded by 400 years of the systematic, dehumanizing abuse of one race by another.
The brutality in Minneapolis simply poured red-hot salt into that wound, making the pain no longer bearable—especially after the disproportionate physical and economic devastations within the Black community these past months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ultimately, it all came down to a knee.
A white man placed his knee on the neck of a black man already handcuffed, rendering him defenseless, helpless, panic-stricken, then unconscious, and finally lifeless. That inexplicable, inexcusable action became a metonymy—when one thing ends up being a part of but also representing something much larger.
In other words, a neck pinned by a knee—and Floyd’s cries of “I can’t breathe”—pictured what countless African Americans have been experiencing across our land for centuries, on every level of life.
Suffering many forms of injustice, racism, poverty, and oppression, Blacks in America have striven for, but failed to secure, a consistent, thorough enfranchisement in our national creed that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . . .” This was the appeal of the Civil Rights dream of the last century—a dream that remains elusive for many.
And so, the outrage broke forth. The anger spilled over. The grief and agony of generations would not be contained any longer.
Except that in one city, riots were replaced by repentance.
What happened there last week points us toward the most promising solution to what many define as “America’s original sin.”
The kneeling that brings the healing
Most news outlets did not report what happened this past Sunday. So, let me fill you in.
There was another kneeling that took place. A kneeling full of life and truth, pointing toward justice and hope. A kneeling that sprang from repentance.
Believe it or not, on May 31, police officers from different departments with the Miami-Dade Chiefs of Police Association, in an act of solidarity with protesters and their cause for justice, publicly knelt down before both the demonstrators and all of heaven to openly express, on behalf of cops everywhere, their regret and repentance for how badly and unjustly many law enforcers have treated African Americans historically. While bowing down, they asked for forgiveness.
Then after someone led the group in prayer, others in the gathering offered up their prayers as well. It was a holy moment. It was a healing moment.
In their dramatic statement, everyone involved was taking a practical, proactive stand against racism and injustice—doing so in the most powerful, most effective, most transformative way any of us could ever share.
They intentionally brought the reigning Christ into the equation!
They were “re-enacting,” we might say, the climax of God’s plan for all creation when justice will prevail thoroughly and universally—when everything will be made right and whole and be healed forever.
We read about this in Philippians 2 (emphasis added):
God exalted Jesus to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and
every tongue will acknowledge
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Whether the Miami police force realized it that day or not, they were reaching into that glorious future that awaits all who belong to Christ, and they were incorporating a significant measure of it—an approximation of it—in the present.
Their act was a picture of surrender to the lordship of Christ, as all of us will do when Jesus is visibly revealed in the future. Their act was inviting his decisive intervention in the present into the increasing upheavals in Miami and in other cities from coast to coast.
They portrayed what it looks like to lay before the Lord Jesus the current crisis, to confess our inability to adequately tackle the unremitting racial prejudice and strife and oppression that infects so many Americans. They were acknowledging that the resolution lies in him alone. They were appealing for his deliverance from the bitter fruits of hundreds of years of brutal slavery—“America’s original sin.”
What if last week this “re-enactment” had taken place in all the cities and communities where demonstrators gathered? How different might things be this week?
Knees at the Throne—the total opposite of knees on a neck—is the most vital step Christians can take for our nation right now.
Only God’s glorious Son, our sovereign Savior, can purge the national sin of racism, bringing forth a spirit of repentance and forgiveness, filling the soul of America with the healing power of his risen, ascended, victorious life, and applying the reign and the justice of God to every expression of our hatred and division.
Looking to the future, America—and especially the Church in America—is left with two possible outcomes. Which will it be?
More knees on the neck or more knees at the Throne?
Scientists worldwide may be feverishly looking for a vaccine for COVID-19. But to effectively secure the overall health of our nation, the far greater challenge we face is this: Will we ever discover the cure for the deadly plague of racism? This goes way beyond physical health. This is all about spiritual health!
For many of us, we’re convinced that the most critical cure lies in a mighty, Spirit-driven nationwide awakening to Christ for ALL he is today. A host of Jesus’ followers needs to rediscover the supreme glory and goodness found in our Redeemer King. In turn, they need to infect the whole of society with the gospel—with the life-redeeming, culture-changing fruits of the gospel.
Through such an awakening, black and white Christians will find new ways to engage with one another, maybe for the first time, by “knees at the Throne”—reproducing in our relationships right now what will be utterly unavoidable in the Consummation.
We must start living today as if we were already in the final fulfillment of Philippians 2, when EVERY knee will be bending and EVERY tongue proclaiming the same allegiance to Jesus—when all that divides us today will have passed away, replaced with one truly holy, happy, society that goes on forever.
“One holy, happy society”—that is what 18th-century Puritans defined as the ultimate result of revival. They actually experienced such a Christ-focused season from time to time. It is the hope for such a breakthrough today—but “on steroids,” we might say—that has caused multitudes of Christians across America to pray persistently for decades for a nationwide Christ Awakening.
For without a doubt, it will be such kneeling that will bring about that kind of healing!
After all, the Jesus destined to prevail as Lord of all at the end is the same Jesus ready to take direct action as Lord with us at this very moment—to do so with all authority, all power, all fullness of grace and love—in his matchless role as the reconciler of all things, in heaven and on earth, “making peace by his blood poured down from the cross” (Colossians 1).
Surely, in this time of national strife, our call must go out far and wide:
Take a knee! Take a knee! Take a knee!
Will you join me?
To learn more of all that the reign of Christ is ready to bring to Christians in America today, listen to David’s CHRIST TODAY Podcast, Episode 19 (30 minutes): “Jesus’ Fourfold, Irreversible Revolution.” Listen here.
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.
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