Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Monday, April 24, 2006

Loyalty Part 4

Persons talking the Naturalization oath to become US citizens pledge:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

They renounce allegiance to their country of birth and swear loyalty to their adopted nation. Their loyalty means that in the case of war, they may have to take up arms against their former country in order to defend their new one. During WWII, there were many stories of immigrants doing just that -Japanese-Americans fighting against the European Axis powers, sons of Italian and German migrants fighting against their father's homelands. A person who pretended to support and defend his new country while secretly working for his old would be defined as a traitor; in time of war, his life would be forfeit. At the least, the person would be considered a fraud and their citizenship could be stripped from them.

When a person becomes a Christian, he/she leaves the kingdom of darkness and enters into the Kingdom of Light. As the Apostle Paul puts it: are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.(Ephesians 2:19-20, NIV)

We owe allegiance to Christ Himself, to follow Him and obey His commands. He stated that our greatest duty was this :
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35, NIV)

Yet too often Christians behave as if we are still playing for the other team. It seems we act as if we are agents for the kingdom of darkness instead of warriors for the Light. As stated earlier, to maintain the old allegiance while pledged to a new one is treason. If God weren't so patient and gracious towards us despite our wavering loyalty, we would surely and swiftly be put to the death for our crimes against Him. Instead, He lovingly, yet firmly calls us to live out our citizenship anew everyday. As we grow in our relationship with Him, our fidelity to His cause becomes more sure, more certain. The treacherous actions that in which we once participated become a faint memory the more closely we follow our new Master.

Regretfully, there are some that want it both ways -they like the privileges and benefits of the new citizenship -eternal life, forgiveness of sin, guaranteed inheritance as God's child. But they also like the pleasure and "excitement" of the old life. "It's okay," they tell themselves, "God will forgive my indiscretions and welcome me back to my homeland." We might wonder if that person had truly taken the oath and become a new citizen with thinking such as that.

Loyalty demands that we stay true to the one to whom we have pledged our oath. If it is to our friend, we must stand by him/her even when times are difficult. Standing by can mean having the courage to say that they are wrong when they are and not letting them get away with it. We can show loyalty to our nation, even when we disagree with national policies. Most of all though, loyalty is a character trait of God Himself. He is the One "who sticks closer than a brother". As we are transformed into Christ-likeness, loyalty becomes one of the characteristics of our life and manifests itself in our loyalty to our God. The world doesn't truly understand true loyalty because they don't have the mind of Christ. That's why the secularists are so puzzled when a man, such a President Bush, would show such unwavering loyalty to an underling. Whether or not Mr. Bush is demonstrating Christ-like character is not the issue here, but rather a world that does not recognize Jesus as God, certainly would not recognize a virtue as such.


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