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"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,  and perfect, will of God."   -Romans 12:2

 

Where is Your True Allegiance?

 

By Marshall "Rusty" Entrekin

The apostle Paul was a citizen of Rome.  He did not renounce this, but rather, asserted his citizen's right to a trial and appeal when his enemies sought to kill him. The twelve apostles, likewise, were citizens of the nation of Israel. However, it is clear that the ultimate allegiance of Paul and the Twelve was to the Kingdom of Heaven, not to any earthly kingdom or power.

While on trial, Paul faithfully and boldly proclaimed Christ before Caesar, even when no one else spoke out in his defense. According to Eusebius, “after defending himself successfully, it is currently reported that the Apostle again went forth to proclaim the Gospel, and afterwards came to Rome a second time, and was martyred under Nero.”

Likewise, when Peter and the rest of the Twelve were brought before the ruling Jewish council for proclaiming Jesus as the One who had just healed a cripple, this is what happened: 

And then the High Priest questioned them. "We strictly forbade you to teach in that name--did we not?" he said. "And see, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and are trying to make us responsible for that man's death!" Peter and the other Apostles replied, "We must obey God rather than man."

Plainly, the highest allegiance of the Apostles was not to any earthly kingdom or power. Is our greatest allegiance also to the Kingdom of Heaven?  If we, like the Apostles, desire to be disciples of Jesus, we also must be willing to boldly risk persecution, death, imprisonment or torture, when the laws of our nation or the decrees of it's rulers and judges contradict the laws of God.

That is one reason why the leaders of communist dictatorships, like Nero of old, persecute true Christians. They want the people's allegiance to lie with them, not with God. But don't fool yourself into thinking that there are not similarly inflated egos, who will also greedily consume your soul here in the West, if you will only let them. Even here in the democratic West, you will inevitably have to choose between following men, or following God.

Theologian Paul Tillich identified a principle which, while it was intended to guide us in our reaction to the customs of pagan religions, can also be applied to the subject at hand. He said that Christianity should be the "center of crystallization for all positive religious elements after they have been subjected to the criteria implied in this center."  In other words, if we Christians see certain practices of other religions that are more in line with Biblical principles than our own, we ought to adopt them (stripped clean, of course, of any idolatrous elements).  This is because our first allegiance is to God and His kingdom, not to any extra-Biblical "religious" customs or things.  Of course, in order to judge these practices accurately, we must be careful to correctly identify the biblical criteria which lie at the center of our faith, which are love and it's out-flowing expressions, including truth, mercy, kindness, generosity and justice.                                                

We should apply this principle to every new thing we encounter.  If a new custom, idea, technology, medicine, clothing, invention, or any other thing is found to be more in line with Biblical principles, then we ought to adopt it. Why?  Again, because our highest allegiance should to be to God and His kingdom, not to old customs, or to old things. "Custom without truth," Tertullian said, "is error grown old."

On the other hand, following this principle of subjecting everything to Biblical criteria also means that we should not embrace something merely because it is new.  Since our first allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, if something new is contrary to Biblical principles, then we ought to strongly reject it.  Jesus followed this principle, criticizing the Pharisees because they transgressed the word of God for the sake of their traditions.

Should we not, as believers, also apply this principle to how we conduct politics?  In our nation, most evangelical Christians have given their support to the Republican Party, because of its pro-life, pro-family platform, which they believe is more in alignment with higher biblical principles.  This is not to say that the Democrats have not gotten it right regarding certain things, such as the importance of preserving our natural environment, and the need to help the poor. But when we weigh these issues on the scales, the value of human life, and the importance of the family as the foundational unit of our society tips the scales in the favor of the Republican Party for most evangelicals. 

Because of this, the rest of what I am going to write is specifically directed to believers who have chosen to be Republicans. But if you are a pro-life Democrat, someone who optimistically clings to the hope that the Democratic Party can be brought back in line with Biblical values, or a die-hard conservative Democrat like Zell Miller, these principles will apply to you, too.  Just substitute the party names, and draw the logical conclusions. However, if you are someone who, like Nancy Pelosi or Barak Obama, ardently fights for anti-biblical values, and yet conveniently claims to be a Christian, this is not meant for you. I find your claim to be a Christian as credible as a claim to be Santa Claus. Jesus said that we can recognize a tree by its fruit, and I'm not about to abandon that means of discernment. No matter what your mouth is saying, your deeds are speaking louder. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commands." It's as simple as that. If you are fighting against God's commands, you don't really love Him.

Evangelicals must make it plain to all concerned that our first allegiance is to the Kingdom of Heaven, not to a political party. We should make it very clear to the Republican Party leadership that if the party ever abandons Biblical principles by embracing homosexual marriage, abortion, pornography, extra-marital sex, or any other form of rebellion against God and His moral precepts, we will withdraw our substantial voting bloc, and create or align with an alternative party. Otherwise, we will compromise our effectiveness as "salt and light" in our political system.

It is very important that we adopt this attitude, because although the Republican Party has gotten many things right, they certainly have not historically gotten everything right.  Sometimes the Democrats have rightly accused the Republicans of mistakes, ill-conceived policies, or moral failings (and at other times, wrongly).

Related to this, the Republican Party has historically been a defender of free enterprise. But free enterprise, which can be considered natural and Biblical because it was assumed from the start in the laws given by Moses to the nation of Israel, can easily be perverted into personal and corporate greed if not regulated by just laws. Moses, imbued with wisdom from the Spirit of God, foresaw this danger, and instituted civil laws to prevent this from happening. Had he not done so, eventually there would have been a few rich people ruling over a mostly impoverished population, and virtually no middle class (as has happened in some third world countries). Here are just a few of the laws Moses instituted to prevent that from happening:

 

1. Originally, all property was divided up among the Israelite families. It could not be permanently sold. Every 50 years, any property which had been sold was supposed to revert back to the ownership of the original families and their descendents. This was called the Year of Jubilee.

2. Israelite citizens who became slaves as a result of debt could not be kept as slaves forever. After seven years, they were to be set free and given enough provisions by their former master for a fresh start. (Our laws allowing bankruptcy every seven years seem to follow this pattern of mercy).

3. Farm crops were to be reaped or gleaned only once. What was left over, or ripened late, was to be left for the poor to freely gather.

4. Children were to honor their parents with support when they grew too old to provide for themselves.

5. Workers could not be forced to work seven days a week. They were to be given a day of rest.

6. An Israelite could not charge a fellow Israelite interest for a loan.

While we do not live in an agrarian society, and these laws were intended for the nation of Israel, this does not mean that we Gentiles cannot follow them in spirit. There are principles of mercy and compassion that we can identify in all of these laws. We ought to follow those principles, and encourage our government to follow them as well. Whenever our political party of choice leans toward support of corporate and personal greed, or does not consider the poor, in violation of these and other biblical principles, we as Christians must call it to account.

I believe that it was wrong, for instance, and a violation of the Geneva convention, to throw prisoners, no matter how morally repugnant they might have been, or how much a threat to our nation they might have been, into Gitmo with no hope of trial. The right to a fair trial is a basic human right found in the Bible. But how many Christians who aligned themselves with the Republican Party protested this violation of a God-given right (and violation of the Geneva Convention, a treaty our nation agreed to abide by)?

When violations of moral law such as this occur, we ought not to cover for the Republican Party and its leaders, and pretend that what they have done is not so bad.  We might be tempted to do this, because we fear that if we don't, we will give the opposing party an upper hand.  The result, however, is that in the long run it does just the opposite.  If we do not hold the leaders of our party accountable, they will continue in their practices, loose credibility to the public at large, and in the next election the nation will suffer for it (as I believe happened in the last Presidential election.) 

Likewise, we should not oppose everything the Democratic Party wants to do just because it is, by nature, "the enemy" of the Republican Party in our two-party system. It makes us look ridiculous and childish if we oppose something good merely because it has been proposed by a Democrat.  Instead, we must ask, "Is this in accord with Biblical principles?" If it is, we ought to support it.

Lastly, we must hold not only our chosen political party, but our nation to account. If a law, declared war or executive policy selfishly serves our nation, but violates a biblical principle or is unjust, we are duty-bound to oppose it.

We must warn all nations, rulers and kings that they ought to submit to the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven. Justice, righteousness, mercy, love, respect for the value of human life, and compassion for the poor ought to be the hallmarks of any government. Nations that abandon these principles, as history demonstrates, will eventually fall under the judgment of God. As a new t-shirt I want to buy proclaims, "There is a higher Court than the Supreme Court."

When each of us stands before that Court, the only Court capable of judging our thoughts, motives and actions without error, every true Christian will find mercy for our sins, as we have extended mercy to others, for Jesus will be our advocate, or "defense attorney" at that court. He will argue that He took the punishment for our sins upon Himself on the cross. But what will determine the rewards, if any, that we will receive? They will be determined by the extent to which we demonstrated our allegiance to God and His Kingdom through our actions. Not the extent to which we were devoted to a political party, nation, charismatic leader, government, or even some church institution.

The question is, as our society is growing more and more out of step with God and descends into moral lawlessness, will we be bold enough to pass the many tests of our true allegiance that we will encounter? Jesus said that because "iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold."

"Lord," we therefore pray, "You said that the night is coming, when no man can work. Is the sunset now beginning, or is the light merely being obscured by the clouds? In either case, give us boldness to work all the harder while we can. If the night is about to fall, we plead with You, please keep the flame of our love burning even in the midst of the cold and darkness. May those who are cold and shivering find warmth in the glow of it. May our true allegiance ever be with You, and may we be found faithful to You, even if it means persecution, imprisonment, or death."

~

 
 

Rusty Entrekin is a theology graduate of Louisiana College. He and his wife Julie have seven children, with four still at home, and four grandchildren. Currently, he resides in Kennesaw, GA. He writes apologetic and theological articles to help people come to know Christ and grow closer to the Lord. If this article has blessed you, and you would like to free him up to write more, you may make a donation below.

Rusty previously decided not to apply for 501c3 ministry status, so that he can write about political matters without worrying about government interference. Because of this, your gifts will not be tax deductible. However, you will receive a far greater reward for your donation:  treasure in heaven!