Allegiance

As an American, when I pledge allegiance to our flag, I don’t say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and Mexico and China and France and Kenya and Canada and Germany and Australia and India and Japan and Brazil and Ghana . . .”

How could I do this?  The government and rules in each country are different.

Christians are accused sometimes of being intolerant when they pledge their allegiance only to the God of the Bible, but that’s like saying it’s intolerant to only pledge allegiance to the American flag.  Pledging to the American flag isn’t even really about intolerance, it’s about (or is meant to be about) true devotion.  With national devotion naturally comes “intolerance” to devotion to other countries.  Pledging allegiance to God–it’s the same way.

Yes, it’s “intolerant” to pledge allegiance to one God, if you believe that all religions are on equal playing ground–but who really believes that?  That in itself is it’s own religion.  That’s similar to believing I should pledge allegiance to the world, but not to any particular country.  In a way, this belief is actually “intolerant” too–because I would be refusing allegiance to any one country.

(Not to mention, I don’t think too many countries would be very accepting of that kind of devotion.  It wouldn’t be very popular in America, for example, to stand up at a baseball game and sing loudly, “O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er America and Iran, and Iraq and Egypt?”)

I really am devoted to God.  And with that really does come “undevotion” (a.k.a. “intolerance) towards other religions.  But that’s so natural!  Other religions have done nothing for me–why should I try to serve them equally?  And how could I, when all other religions are in complete disharmony with Christianity?

I want to serve the God who died for me.  That’s the God I’ve given my allegiance to.  Anybody else’s god . . . isn’t my god.  I can’t agree to serve that god, too–I don’t even believe there are other gods, because my Bible tells me there aren’t.  I would be a ridiculous fraud, and incredibly disloyal, to give any other religion my allegiance . . . or even my respect . . . when I have met the God who took away my sins because He wanted to remove the infinite punishment from my soul.

I’m okay with being intolerant, if that’s what serving one God devotedly means nowadays.  I’m committed to Jesus, and on Him I want to pour every offering of allegiance I have.  But there’s more than just that–I want people to be led away from false religions to the true God.  That makes me doubly intolerant, I guess, in some people’s books–but I’m not out to be good in some people’s books.  I’m out to serve the God who was willing to become human so He could die to save me.  I’m out to serve the God who can bring me into Heaven by His grace.

I don’t believe in alternate Heavens or that all paths lead to Heaven’s gates.  It’s an impossibility.  Jesus says,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (from John 14:6, NIV)

Now there are only two options: either He was right, or He was wrong.  If He was right, there is no other way to God except Jesus.  And if He was wrong, it is impossible that all ways could be right because He would be wrong.  Believing all paths lead to Heaven is a self-refuting idea.

Because I don’t believe all paths lead to God, but only the way of Jesus Christ, it’s only natural that I would want people to follow Jesus.  I don’t want to see my friends or family go to Hell.  I don’t want to see anybody go to Hell.

Here’s where the allegiance to the flag analogy kinda breaks down.  There are other countries that I wouldn’t mind people committing themselves to–like Australia, for example.  But if there was only one country that was run justly, and all other countries were tyrannical and abusive and tortured their citizens, I would long for everyone to be a citizen of the country I knew to be safe.

It’s that way with God: I long for everyone to know the true God, the living God, so that they can live eternally in His Kingdom.

I want to live my life, not in such a way that others are proud of my tolerance, but in such a way that others are curious of my devotion.  All tolerance is, really, is accepting things as okay when they aren’t. I can be tolerant of the abuse happening to women in countries run by tyrannical governments, for example, but I don’t find anything admirable in that tolerance.  In the same way, I don’t find any beauty in pretending to stand in harmony with any religion that drops people off in Hell.

I pledge allegiance to the God who sent His Son to suffer and die for my sins, and to be raised up to defeat the power of sin once and for all.  That’s my God, and He holds all my allegiance.

There can’t be any allegiance left over to give to any other “god”.  Not if I really understand the cross.

Who would have believed what we now report?
Who could have seen the Lord’s hand in this?
It was the will of the Lord that his servant
grow like a plant taking root in dry ground.
He had no dignity or beauty
to make us take notice of him.
There was nothing attractive about him,
 nothing that would draw us to him.
We despised him and rejected him;
 he endured suffering and pain.
 No one would even look at him—
 we ignored him as if he were nothing.

But he endured the suffering that should have been ours,
the pain that we should have borne.
All the while we thought that his suffering
was punishment sent by God.
But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did.
We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
made whole by the blows he received.
All of us were like sheep that were lost,
each of us going his own way.
But the Lord made the punishment fall on him,
the punishment all of us deserved.

He was treated harshly, but endured it humbly;
he never said a word.
Like a lamb about to be slaughtered,
like a sheep about to be sheared,
he never said a word.
He was arrested and sentenced and led off to die,
and no one cared about his fate.
He was put to death for the sins of our people.
He was placed in a grave with those who are evil,
he was buried with the rich,
even though he had never committed a crime
or ever told a lie.

The Lord says,
It was my will that he should suffer;
his death was a sacrifice to bring forgiveness.
And so he will see his descendants;
he will live a long life,
and through him my purpose will succeed.
After a life of suffering, he will again have joy;
he will know that he did not suffer in vain.
My devoted servant, with whom I am pleased,
will bear the punishment of many
and for his sake I will forgive them.
And so I will give him a place of honor,
a place among the great and powerful.
He willingly gave his life
and shared the fate of evil men.
He took the place of many sinners
and prayed that they might be forgiven. (Isaiah 53:1b-12, GNT)

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Good News Translation: Scripture taken from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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