There has been some talk on and off as to whether or not a follower of Jesus Christ should recite the United States Pledge of Allegiance. You can find Benjamin Corey’s post on it here. Bob Ekblad also wrote an excellent post about it in 2008 which can be read here. While I am not going to weigh in one way or another on the debate, it does cause me to ask the question, “To whom is our allegiance?”
Having been born and raised in the United States, I well remember the ritual we went through every morning in elementary school. After the final bell of the morning rang, and before we would engage in our studies, we would stand beside our little desks and place our right hands over our hearts as we faced the red, white, and blue flag proudly displayed over the chalkboard at the front of the classroom. Led by our teacher, we would all recite in unison,
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.
Then we would take our seats and class would begin.
This daily ritual was part of training children in what it meant to be a US citizen. We were taught to be proud of our country, to obey its laws, support its government, and fight for its freedom. We were expected to take an active role in its politics, even if that role was merely a vote. It was our civic duty to care about the political future of our country. And woe be to the one who would say anything to the contrary! To do so would earn you the label of communist. atheist, hippie, radical, etc.
Everything changes, however, when we become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. By its very nature, following Jesus cancels out all other claims of those who would seek to direct our lives. All other allegiances are set aside in order to give our full allegiance to the One we are determined to follow, because we cannot walk in two directions at once. Having attached ourselves to King Jesus, we are also given a new citizenship, as Paul wrote to the Philippians.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ… Philippians 3:20
The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. Roman citizens were expected to represent absolute loyalty to Rome. For Paul to write that their true citizenship was in heaven was tantamount to sedition. Why? Because one’s citizenship largely dictates where one’s allegiance lies.
Just because our first loyalty is to Jesus Christ, we are not permitted to be sloppy citizens or whatever earthly country we live in. We are told that we must submit to the governing authorities, pay taxes, and perform all the other duties of a proper citizen (See Romans 13:1 – 7). The difference comes when the government of our country asks us to do something contrary to the values and will of King Jesus. At that point we must graciously refuse to obey, and joyfully submit to whatever punishment they deem necessary. There is only one King who is over all other kings, and our allegiance is first and foremost to Him as we make His government our top priority (see Matthew 6:33).
A New Pledge
Does one say the Pledge of Allegiance or not? I leave that to you to decide. Sometime ago I set out to come up with a pledge of allegiance to Jesus Christ as King. This is how it looks so far. Give it a read and see what you think.
I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ,
King of kings and Lord of lords,
Who was born of the virgin Mary,
Son of God and Son of Man.
He lived a perfectly obedient life,
And proclaimed the Kingdom of God come and coming.
He was crucified, died, and was buried.
Having tasted death for every man,
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He is now seated at the right hand of God.
From there He will return to judge the living and the dead.
I submit to His reign in all of life
Together with all who put their trust in Him.
His mission is my mission,
His glory my goal,
As I look toward the Day when He returns
To reign as the one True King
Forever and ever.
Rightly understood, this could be proclaimed at a person’s baptism as their declaration of faithful allegiance. Although it may not be perfect, it certainly reflects my own heartbeat as one who is determined to live in the Reign.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.