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.
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Matthew 6.24a)
Now I’m treading on more controversial territory. While I’m aware that the verse I quote here is talking about money, in its original context, I think the principal that Christ is referring to has a wider implication that we can’t serve God and anything else. One of the things that became clear to me as I read the words of Christ over again with fresh eyes was that there were areas in which the words of Christ would call me into beliefs and actions that might be counter to what my nation might ask of me. (More on these areas in the future.) How was I to balance these conflicts. I could come to only one conclusion, the call of Christ must trump all. Certainly, I think that most Christians, even ardent politically involved ones, would acknowledge that Christ must be preeminent. This became increasingly unsettling when I was in situations where the Pledge of Allegiance was being said. How could I pledge allegiance to my country, while in my heart knowing that there was another, far greater allegiance that would trump my commitment to my country in any and all situations?
Please, don’t get me wrong. As nations of this earth go, America is the one in which I would choose to live every time. The freedom to even consider this type of position openly is a blessing that I do not take for granted. Also, my grandfather served in the armed forces during WWII, and I value his service, and that of so many others down through the years. I am not calling America evil, or accusing anyone in the government of anti-God policies. This theology grew in me during both Republican and Democratic administrations, and has nothing to do with demonizing a particular party.
For me, this was about an issue of supremacy. If Christ and His Kingdom were supreme in my life, and that Kingdom was the place of my primary citizenship, I feel that I cannot pledge my allegiance to any other authority. Yes, I am subject to my governing authorities, and endeavor to abide by their rules in every way that I can. I pay my taxes, abide by local laws, respect the police and obey traffic laws (probably should slow down a little when driving, though). I am not advocating for anarchy, or anything of the sort. I’m simply saying that if we, as Christians, claim Christ as our authority, I cannot understand how we can cede any of that to our country, which we must admit is not infallible. For many years my adopted children would have been viewed as less than human under the law because of their mixed race heritage. For many years my wife would not have been allowed to vote. There are certainly things in this country today that are inconsistent with Christ’s teaching, and even debate about whether the wars we are currently fighting meet the threshold of “just-war” theory.
Jesus clearly indicates in His last prayer for His disciples in John 17 that we are not of this world any longer:
16 They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. 19 And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart. (John 17.16-19)
John reiterates this in his first letter:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2.15-17)
36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18.36)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears. (1 Peter 2.9-12)