As Filipinos, we are a loyal people. We love to show our loyalty to our campus basketball team, our unique culture, and even our fave PPop bands. But as followers of Jesus Christ, our main allegiance is to Him and His Kingdom. What does this mean?
One of the things we are required to memorize growing up was the Panatang Makabayan or the Filipino’s Pledge of Allegiance. Personally, I love how it is crafted–how it shows love and loyalty to our nation.
We are loyal to many things. We are loyal to our region, province, or city– we like to tell others how beautiful our beaches are, how fun our festivals are, or how good our cuisine is.
We are loyal to our campus– we like to tell others how high the standard of education is in our university or how high the caliber of our sports teams.
We are loyal to our barkada or organization– we like to tell potential recruits why they should join us and not a similar club by boasting about our club accomplishments.
We are loyal to our family– we like to display diplomas, medals or trophies of family members to show how accomplished our family is.
There is nothing wrong with our loyalties, but sometimes, we become too regionalistic, we vote for politicians just because they originated from our province or city—or sometimes, just because we are from the same clan or family. Sometimes, campus rivalry ends up in a fight between friends or family members from rival schools just because of a game. Sometimes, fraternities or gangs end up having feuds because the members feel one of their own was hurt by the other gang.
But if we are followers of Jesus Christ, we need to remember that our main allegiance is to Him and to His kingdom. This means that loyalty to Jesus Christ takes precedence over any other loyalties that we have. What does this entail?
One of the saddest stories I’ve heard is about how Mahatma Gandhi once sought to know Jesus more because he read the Bible and was touched by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where He was talking about the kingdom of God being an upside down kingdom, defending the poor and the oppressed. Gandhi was even more encouraged because Jesus lived what He preached, being a “friend of sinners” and choosing to be associated even with the provincial and the uneducated.
Gandhi wanted to be a follower of Christ and one Sunday, he visited a Christian church in Calcutta, only to be stopped by ushers at the door, who said the church was for high caste Indians and whites only. This was an experience that greatly influenced Gandhi’s resistance of Christianity, although he still upheld Jesus as “the greatest teacher who ever lived.”
Whenever someone has an encounter with us, no matter how short, are we leading them closer to Christ or are we misrepresenting Christ to them?
As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’”
This does not mean Christians will never make a mistake or that others should expect perfection from us, but it does mean that we take a position of humility in any encounter. Are we quick to serve? Are we in the frontlines to fight for the poor and the oppressed? Are we good stewards of creation? Are we ready to forgive? Are we willing to ask for forgiveness?
I’m always amazed at how Paul, despite his imprisonment (likely in a filthy Roman jail), can speak with so much joy and passion about advancing the kingdom of God. In Philippians 1:20-24, he said, “20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.”
Paul understood that the primary purpose of him to continue living is to do the kingdom work God had called him to do.
Paul, Peter, and the rest of the apostles, did kingdom work to their last breath. They suffered persecution and went through countless transitions. They were booted out of their own country and stripped of their reputation. They bled and died for the gospel. What loyalty! What allegiance to Jesus Christ!
The fallen emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was recorded to say near the end of his life, “I know men, and I tell you Jesus Christ was not a man (sic).
Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist.
Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him.”
No earthly king would willingly die for his followers, nor would he have the power to overcome sin, death, and the devil. Jesus Christ both sacrificed His life and won the victory for us. No wonder Paul can say (and we can echo) in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
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