(*I realize that the following post is going to tap a very soft spot in the hearts of some of the readers of this blog. Please know my intent is to create questions and dialogue, not to put down or insult any one person. I will be moderating comments heavily.) If you grew up in an American public school, you learned the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember the beginning of the day, the loudspeaker cranked up and we all stood up and listened to someone who was chosen (randomly, and I don't believe it was ever me...not bitter or anything...) to say the Pledge and we all recited along with them.
A pledge of allegiance is a thread that continues to appear throughout life.
When I marry a couple, I ask if they are willing to give themselves to each other, "excluding all others."
Some jobs require a no-compete clause where if you leave that company you won't go work for the competitor. You owe allegiance to your company and not the other.
When I lead someone in the confession that precedes baptism in our local church community, there are several definite terms:
I believe Jesus is THE Christ, THE Son of the Living God, and He IS my Lord and Savior.
Indeed, Christian spiritual formation and the transformation of individuals and communities is a question of allegiance. To whom do we check up to? Who is it that infuses our lives with power and ability and gets the right to trump all other allegiances?
The reason this is so important is because there is no such thing as allegiance without agenda. Anything we pledge allegiance to will have it's own objectives and agenda to be fulfilled.
Our marriages require fidelity - we can't pledge our faith to another person and then find our way into the beds of others.
Our jobs require loyalty - we can't say we believe in what we're doing and in the meantime have side projects going on that derail the mission and function of our place of employment.
Which brings me to the sticky point of pledging allegiance: What do we do when our pledge of allegiance to Jesus is tested by other requests for allegiance?
When our allegiance to the Kingdom of God contains a lifestyle that leads to conflict with, for example, our pledge of allegiance to a nation?
If Christian spiritual formation is a question of allegiances and the agendas that come with them, can we pledge allegiance to Christ as well as systems and agendas that align themselves against Him at the same time?
The question is vital to Jesus. He was constantly pointing out the issue of allegiance - let the dead bury their own dead, you can't serve two masters, no one who puts His hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.
Examine your allegiances today. What do your priorities, world views, political positions, and descriptions of others say about your allegiances? If our relationship with Christ has a marital theme, are our pledges of allegiance leading us into a sort of spiritual adultery?
Father, help us to understand the gravity of mixed allegiances. Open our eyes to see where our frustrations with you lie in our commitments to others.