Growing up in America, every morning in school, all the kids would turn, place their right hand over their heart, and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
“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.”
Of course, as a child, the Pledge didn’t mean that much, and we usually garbled up the words as well. But even though I didn’t understand the words, or what I was saying, I was aware that America was my home country where I would grow, learn, and make friends.
Now that I’m older, I wonder whether I could say that pledge with conviction. Could I give allegiance to the flag – that flag which represents the United States of America – and recite that pledge without any cynicism or doubt? It seems to me that as I’ve aged, I find it more difficult to say with hope or the vibrancy of youth. Instead, I find myself asking, what do I pledge allegiance to, or who do I pledge allegiance to?
Mankind seems to have this innate desire to give pledge allegiance to something. We want to give our loyalties to someone or something. You know what I’m talking about – Manchester United, Liverpool FC, Arsenal. Apple, Android, Windows. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Primark. People, consciously or not, pledge their allegiance (and their finances) to brands, companies, and things. It’s as if we all want to be a fan or included in a group.
Romans 6:17,18 says:
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
There are a million small, trivial things that we pledge our allegiance to – little pieces of our allegiance. But then God, through Jesus he calls us to a new allegiance. And we discover that all this time, it’s God that our heart has been calling out for. A God who embodies Truth. Justice. Perfection. Sincerity. Faithfulness. Hope. Eternity. Righteousness.
Allegiance to Christ sets us on a path where we are free from those things which used to demand our allegiance. But now we are allied with Christ. Loyal to his righteousness – and so we hold to righteousness. It becomes one of the reasons why we avoid sin – because we no longer pledge allegiance to it. We now surrender our allegiance to our Saviour King.
As we get older, we are forced to choose what are the things precious to us. What are the things that we will be loyal to. Make the decision sooner, to ally yourself with the God who proved his loyalty to us first.
These were some thoughts from this week’s continuing series through the book of Romans. The message on Romans 6:15-23 can be found on the Sunday messages page. There is also an accompanying Bible study with leaders notes available on the searchable resources page.