Pastor's Blog

I Pledge Allegiance

In case you hadn't noticed, football season has come early to the United States, and right on time for the rest of the world. Of course, I'm not talking about American football, I'm referring to soccer and the World Cup tournament. And World Cup fever has seemingly affected almost everyone on the planet, including, yours truly. As I sit here in my office writing, I'm listening to USA vs. Germany on the radio and quietly cheering the Americans on – USA! USA! USA!

The World Cup tournament is more than just a series of soccer matches. It draws people together around the world into a paroxysm of patriotism, as the hope and pride of each country represented is placed squarely on the shoulders of the eleven men on the field who valiantly carry the fight to the opponent on behalf of a watching nation.

Patriotism, defined as allegiance to or love for one's country of origin, is an interesting phenomenon. As human beings, all created by the same God, patriotism can draw us together in positive ways to work for the common good. However, unbridled patriotism can and often does separate us from our fellow man and has led to all manner of atrocities.

As we cheer on the US soccer team, and as we celebrate American independence this July 4th, it would be a good time to pause and consider our true identity and our ultimate allegiance. As followers of Christ, two scriptures come to mind that can guide us in our thinking.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Galatia challenges us to find our primary identity in Christ when he says,

“You are all sons [and daughters] of God through faith in Christ Jesus...There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”, (Galatians 3:26-28).

And the writer to the Hebrews notes the national/cultural transcendence of the faithful that have gone before us when he states,

“...And they admitted that they were strangers and aliens on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own...[T]hey were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”, (Hebrews 11:13-16).

The “heavenly country” mentioned in this verse is not referring to some ethereal location in the clouds. Heaven in this context is referring to the imminent rule and reign of God himself. As much as I love America and am grateful for the freedom we enjoy and am respectful of the sacrifices made for that freedom, I am also painfully aware that we are not a perfect nation, and that much inequality and injustice remains, just like it does in any other country.

I will continue to cheer on team USA in the World Cup, and I will enjoy Independence Day fireworks and hot dogs, while at the same time longing for and working toward that day when Christ, my savior, returns to establish true liberty and justice for all.

For His Kingdom,

Pastor Scott