“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.”
We have pledge (promised) our allegiance (duty, responsibility) to our country as our eyes fixate on a flag. While our national bird, the bald eagle, captures our eyes as its wings catch the next updraft, the stars and stripes has captured our heart. Why else does this symbol of our country stir emotions of freedom, causes tears in our eyes and pride on our country? Why would this fabric symbol inspire thoughts of lives lost and loved ones passed? Why would people argue over its burning at public protests? Is it not because it has captured our hearts?
Would our honor for this symbol surpass our honor for the Creator? Would our devotion for our country trump our citizenship in the eternal kingdom?
For some of you, it already has. Your affection for the political leanings of the past, present and future has disdained the purpose of the most innocent Savior on the cross! Minds quickly turn to the “right political party” instead of the righteous One! A political sign, sticker or shirt is emblazoned on our lives for all to see more than the sign of salvation on our hearts. The times of change are sweeping our land like they swept the heart of the Israelites.
“We want a king they shouted. We want to be like the nations around us. Give us a king!” And a king they got! (Chris Gallagher Paraphrase; see 1 Samuel 8.1-9)
The king they wanted brought calamity against the King of the Universe. (See 1 Samuel 15) To many, the God of heaven was replaced with the “god” of an earthly, jeweled crown. When the nation prospered, so did the people. Remember, prosperity brings forget. The past is forgotten because of the present! The reality of the prosperous present gives darkness to the true reality of the future.
Too soon they forgot and too soon the kings fell, from Saul, David, to Zedekiah . The nation became divided, not as God desired, but as man wished. The children of God acted too late, their lives were fixated on the present allowing for future regrets.
Has it become so with Christians in our present day? Have God’s children allowed the loyalty to the physical to veto our allegiance to our Maker?
Was it not Paul who said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3.20)
If our citizenship is in Heaven, why do we cast our fears to flawed men seeking flawed positions in a flawed system? Are we fearful our Creator will not care for us as He promised?
Peter says, “Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5.7)
Are we living in fear that God promised us great blessings but His hands are never working in our lives? Did He put us on this dirt clod we call Earth, give it a quick spin and decided to sit back and watch calamity take control and let the evil overrun the righteous?
When our fears take over our faith, then we rely on the physical man. Will we become the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and zealots of the present? Will our allegiance cast itself on a physical party to solve our spiritual dilemmas? Will our spiritual allegiance be cast on a group instead of the Risen One?
The words of Jesus to the frightened twelve should settle our hearts today,
“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14.1,2)
The words of the Savior brings us to worship? Reliance on the Creator humbles our hearts to His plans and His love. Do we honor the physical because we forget the spiritual? Or do we stand in awe of the spiritual because we see the physical?
You see, worship is not an event on a Sunday morning. It is not a five-fingered pattern of physical actions, but a crystal clear “cut to the heart” matter. Worship is found in its definition; “to stand in awe of, honor, respect” and “ to bow down to kiss the hand of.”
Worship with awe is an event; a life changing event. Worship without respect is just time spent. Worship without honor is…well, sad!
As Paul gathered on Mars Hill to address the city’s “unknown god,” the stark reality of flawed men became ever present. While the world’s greatest thinkers mocked, the host of heaven became alive. The philosophers pondered and others responded. It was in full affection Paul brought their flawed thinking to light with the cross of Christ. The humble reformed Pharisee brought to their minds the ignorant worship of their participation. For years, their actions toward the “unknown god” were just that – actions!
Their allegiance to this unknown god was split a thousand ways. Other gods got their attention, in place of the True God who deserved their attention.
Have you beckoned our own attention to split a thousand ways?
Has your worship been replaced by your rising fear?
Have we become 21st century Israelites? Once circumcised by the Spirit but lost in the futile?
Have we left the citizenship of Heaven for the party of a country? Or, have we left the citizenship in the family of God for the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and zealots of the present?
Your worship is effected by your party affiliation. The party of choice will become the belief of the present. The views of the party cloud the mind and wrinkle the souls as they stiffen against anything that does not walk the party line. Consider the Pharisees, their choice of party allegiance effected their worship.
“In vain they do worship we, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15.9)
Their choice to place power in their performance effected their worship! They had chosen the things of men greater than the mind of God. Their own teaching had become the focal point. Honor and respect of themselves became the “god of their choosing. While they delighted in the sacrifice of the physical, the spiritual sacrifice took a back seat resulting in a physical sacrifice of thoughtless and worshipless actions. Selfishness settled in and godliness was squeezed out.
“I am sure the Pharisees had not planned to delve into the physical course, but their earthly loyalty took them ultimately to themselves instead of Jesus. The did not miss the forest for the trees, the missed the tree for the egotistic mirror of their own life. They missed the forest because they missed the One who made the forest.
Are we honoring what we will instead of what we must?
“For God is a spirit and those that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4.24)
To which brings greater honor:
Citizenship in our current land?
Citizenship in our eternal land?
As worshippers seeking to worship the One of no beginning and no end, God, where does our honor reside?
For a land awaits there awesomeness abounds because of the One who resides. The land awaits is a land of honor, awe and praise; but it only awaits those who seek it.
“The road is narrow and the way is hard and few there are who find it.” (Matthew 7.14)
Citizens of Heaven are beyond loyal to the land of God, it is life of mercy, grace and love. There are no flaws in the heavenly country because its King is the flawless Creator.
As you seek to worship God, where is your honor?
Just some thoughts.