I pledge allegiance to…

A commenter posted this on a news piece from ABC News: 

Here’s a question for you all:Is your primary allegiance to the United States of America and the Constitution, or your religion, be it Christian, Judaism, Deism, Islam, etc.?I am a Deist ~~ my primary and unconditional allegiance is to the USA and our Constitution!!!What is your answer???
CinemaNoir 12:38 AM 

This person has asked a poignant and highly relevant question. Where is your allegiance? CinemaNoir offers the two choices that are most relevant to the article, but these are not the only choices. The competition is not only between one’s nation and one’s religion. There are many many other competitors for our allegiance. If we had to attempt to categorize all of them, I think we could divide them between Self and Other. If you’re primary allegiance is to your Self, then you will invariably choose to do what is most beneficial/advantageous for you. If you’re primary allegiance is to some Other, then you will invariably choose to do what is most beneficial/advantageous for that Other, whether it is a nation, a religious community, a spouse of even an ideal. 

Interestingly, Jesus dealt with the same two competing allegiances mentioned by CinemaNoir. However, in His Jewish context, there was no neat separation between national allegiance and religious allegiance. The two were inextricably intertwined and not clearly discernible to our modern way of thinking. Frequently, when Jesus’ enemies attempted to find a charge against Him, it was with regard to His allegiance. Was His allegiance to Moses? The Law? The Pharisee’s school of Judaism? Caesar? It was as though the subtext to every attempt to trap Jesus by His words was the question that Joshua put to the angel who visited him before the attack on Jericho: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” And like the angel, Jesus pledged His allegiance to neither. In fact, He called His hearers to pledge their allegiance to Him. Perhaps this is most clear in His statement: 

 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

 Or perhaps when He says: 

32“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. 

This is what is means to become a Christian: to accept Jesus’ call for allegiance. When a person becomes a Christian, he pledges his allegiance to Jesus. NOT to Christianity. NOT to the Church. NOT to a particular expression of faith. NOT to a nation which claims to be “Christian” or even “under God”. Granted, that person may have affections for these things, but whenever a conflict arises between them and Jesus (and such conflicts DO arise), then the Christian must invariably choose to remain loyal to Jesus. 

I have pledged my allegiance to Jesus. Certainly, there are challenges to my allegiance. Sometimes, I rise to them and sometimes I don’t. However, Jesus (unlike other “liege lords”) forgives my infidelities and allows me to renew my pledge to Him. He does this because, (also unlike others) He is faithful to those who have given their allegiance to Him.

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