Central Guys – below is a great devotional from Maggie Parish that went out to our sisters in Christ! I told Maggie that she should preach BUT she respectfully declined. Thanks Maggie for your good word!
Dear Sisters in Christ,
Next week we celebrate Freedom on Independence Day. The devotional is based on next Sunday’s sermon topic “Who do we pledge our allegiance to?” It seems like it has an easy answer…but is it that easy? Take a moment and think about all the different groups, organizations, etc. that demand our allegiance. A place of work, a community/civic organization, clubs , church…the list goes on. How do you choose?
The first thing that popped into my mind when I read the question was “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”. I grew up with that pledge as many of you did, reciting it every morning at the beginning of the school day. While that came to mind quickly, the next thought was…but what about God? Do I pledge allegiance to him every day? Did you know there was a Christian pledge of allegiance? I did an internet search and sure enough, there is a pledge to the Christian flag, and to the Bible. I have to admit I was not familiar with this pledge. “I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands; one brotherhood, uniting all mankind in service and in love.” Interesting, and there’s some history behind the pledge on the internet if you’re interested.
So, back to the question. “ Who do we pledge allegiance to?” The two scripture references (Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1-8 seem quite clear about being obedient to authorities, but is it all that simple? What is the definition of allegiance anyway? According to Merriam and Webster dictionary it is “loyalty to a person, country, group, etc. Hmm. Keeping that in mind, I reread the scripture verses and these are the ones that I found myself drawn to.
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Romans 13: 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.
Titus 3: 1-2 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
My summary: The authorities in power are established by God, for my good. I should be a law abiding citizen, do good deeds, speak only the truth about people, and be a peacemaker and kind to everyone.
But…I keep coming back to paying allegiance to God or to authorities. Is it possible to do both? What about countries that have governments that do not allow Christians to worship freely or have made it illegal to be a Christian? Looking back to scripture, we find in Daniel 3 the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not bow and worship the image of gold established as a god for King Nebuchadnezzar. BUT, they trusted God would protect them. So they knew they were disobeying the King, but in this case following God’s 1st commandment in Deuteronomy 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before me”. Then there’s Daniel himself in Daniel 6, when he is thrown into the Lion’s Den because he would not stop worshipping God; which was against the edict stating that anyone who prays to any god or human being other than King Nebuchadnezzar would be thrown into the Lion’s Den. Again, God protected Daniel, Daniel put his trust in God and was loyal to God. In Acts 5: 27-29, Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin for being disobedient and preaching and teaching about Jesus. Here again, they knew they would most likely be punished and they were. But they were loyal first to God, then accepting the punishment, indeed rejoicing in being punished for the sake of Jesus!
My summary: My allegiance is to God first and foremost and is done through prayer, and through the way I live. I can also be loyal and allegiant to all authorities in position over me as long as they do not ask me to deny God and Jesus as my Savior. If God put them in place, I’m being loyal to God by being loyal to them. If some day my government forces me to choose between worshipping the my God and some idol, I know that when I choose God, I may pay a price. But Jesus has already paid the price for me so I cannot turn away from Him.
Dear God, you alone are Almighty, and worthy to be Praised. Thank you for placing me in this country that does allow me to worship you freely. I ask you to Bless all those that you have placed in authority. Grant them wisdom to make decisions that are in alignment with your will. Grant us all your peace and help us all to be peacemakers. Guide us in our daily activities so that our lives will be a testimony to your love, mercy, and grace. In Jesus precious name, Amen.