As a high school student I emailed Governor Jim Hodges of South Carolina asking him to lead his state in keeping the version of the Confederate battle flag flying atop the state house in South Carolina. That flag was later corrected to an actual battle flag and placed on a pole next to the soldiers’ monument on the grounds where it has been since then (oddly to the chagrin of individuals such as I was at the time) and has now gained the attention of the entire country. Today, if I emailed the current governor of South Carolina as I did in 2000, I would have a different voice. Today, if I voted in a flag referendum of my home state of Mississippi, I would vote differently than I did in the first election I ever voted in 2001. I share the sentiments and convictions very well articulated by my fellow Southern Baptist and fellow Mississippian Dr. Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
At this time in my life, I had not seriously considered for a moment what, if any meaning, that banner held for anyone who was not thinking of the common Confederate soldier and his personal pride and gallant protection of home and hearth. Where I grew up in Mississippi, the school I attended, and the people of which I was surrounded largely ignored events that had taken place a simple twenty years before I was born while regaling, reveling in and even reliving events that had taken place 120 years before. I was a full participant in the latter, with membership in a genealogical/heritage organization and donning a wool gray uniform on the weekends in battle reenactments.
As I grew further in to young adulthood, I slowly moved away from these things that were so entrenched in my life little knowing why. I would grow to learn my first issue was one of personal idolatry and the second was a growing realization as a minister of the gospel that it would be impossible to maintain hobbies such as these without a misunderstanding from many who needed the gospel (including my fellow participants). Suffice it to say, though I still have a keen interest and appreciation of history, its fullness has become more robust in the shared history of the entire south and American experience (not to mention the native experience) and the further I look, the more I am convinced of the mercy and grace of God that would be difficult to see up close. An honest study of history is an earnest exercise in humility and not a pedestal for pride. It is not good enough to be a student of history, it is essential to be a participant in history. And the history that matters, is the history being written by the Author of history.
The lion pictured above is in the Confederate section of the historic Oakland cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. He is modeled after the famous lion of Lucerne, Switzerland, once described by Mark Twain as “the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world.” That monument, dedicated in 1821, was to Swiss guards who had been massacred fighting in France in 1791. In the clutches of the Swiss Lion are a spear and shields bearing the coats of arms of Switzerland and of the French monarchy . In the clutches of the Atlanta lion is the national flag of the southern American Confederacy. Both monuments remind us: the army of Christ does not enter a battlefield of flesh and blood with the result hanging in the balance. The army of Christ follows the one upon the white horse whose banner reads, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19).” That army is made up of people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. He shows up not to compete but to conquer.
When He comes, all things will be under the feet of the Lion of tribe of Judah. This includes the banners of every kingdom, nation, country, confederacy, alliance and terrorist organization. On that day every idol of human making will be smashed and the way will be made to the throne for people from every tribe, nation, and language. One day, every flag is coming down. In the mean time, let us lay all our idols, banners and totems of pride at the foot of the Lion’s cross.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is marching on.”
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. 9 Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off. 10 And in that day, declares the LORD, I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; 11 and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds; 12 and I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes; 13 and I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; 14 and I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities. 15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey. – Micah 5:8 – 15