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                “They are to stand every morning to thank and to praise the LORD,                         and likewise at evening . . . ”   (1 Chronicles 23:30)

A friend of mine was sharing an experience she had during a visit with her daughter and son-in-law. While she was there, her young grandson had a friend over to their home. When the grandmother (my friend) walked into the room where they were engaged in activity – the boy promptly stood up, held out his hand, and introduced himself. She related that she couldn’t have been more impressed with the manners this child demonstrated at such a young age. It seems like it should be simple enough to know when it’s polite for us to stand as we greet or say goodbye to someone. Although it was once an instinctive act, changing social norms and rapidly disintegrating signs of respect can often times keep one guessing. Standing when someone comes into your circle sends a signal that you are eager to receive the other person. It demonstrates in a non-verbal way that you’ve noticed them, and they are worth your effort to rise from a place of comfort to welcome them.

On occasion, failure to stand has become politicized at public events during patriotic ceremonies. In an attempt to show discord with leadership or express unrest with how someone may have been treated, those who possess some degree of fame or notoriety have at times chosen to display their discontent.  In the United States, it has been tradition to stand for the presentation of the National Anthem.  The Anthem symbolizes a unification of the citizenry around the values of the flag, the country’s freedoms, and those who gave their life so that others might continue to benefit from those liberties. It is a rather basic sign of respect, and it has nothing to do with persons in power or their political positions which may in fact differ from one’s own. There is an irony in this type of demonstration by those who have gained much and profited from the nation’s resources. It is not unlike those who disregard standing in recognition of the very God who has created and provides for them.

The concept of standing is an inherent part of the Christian tradition as well.  In the very first book of The Bible, we read, “Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD” (Genesis 19:27). When the Lord spoke to Moses, He said – “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock” (Exodus 33:21). When the prophet Ezekiel received his call, God said, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you” (Ezekiel 2:1). On a visit to Solomon from the Queen of Sheba, she spoke these words: “How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom” (1 Kings 10:8).  In fact, when Jesus was brought before Pilate in His final hours, He also stood (Matthew 27:11). Additionally, the songs of the church make frequent references to standing. They include the more traditional hymns “Standing on the Promises” and Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” as well as the contemporary chorus, “We Are Standing on Holy Ground.”

While nowhere in scripture are we commanded to specifically pay tribute to a patriotic song or salute a national flag, the Bible is clear that we should submit ourselves “for the Lord’s sake to every human authority . . .  who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-14). To refuse to participate in showing respect for the nation appears arrogant, disrespectful to its heritage, and contrary to God’s teaching. While it may succeed in stirring up controversy, it quite often calls attention to individual persons rather than a cause. The Bible says a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). When we all stand, it’s a reminder that we are still ‘one nation under God.’ In the last stanza of The Star-Spangled Banner, Frances Scott Key penned these words – Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand.” The Lord wants us all to take a stand for Him in this intimidating world. It’s much easier to do that when we remain free in order to make that stand.

REFLECTION: How do we know when to take a bold stand and when to be more tactful and polite? What are some Christlike ways to express concerns and motivate change which focus attention on the issue rather than the individual?  Are there ways God might bless a legitimate place for compromise?


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