"In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.” I Peter 3:15
Recently, a friend asked me to preach at his church on Mark 6:14-29
Well, I thought he was my friend: that’s the story of King Herod’s order, in a perfect storm of folly and ego and hubris and spite, to behead John the Baptist. I complained loudly to my so-called-friend. That is not the kind of text, I said, you assign to a guest preacher, and especially not to one you have shared meals and taken walks with. It’s gruesome. It’s bleak. It’s dark. And – this, I said, to finally clinch the argument – it’s inescapably political. You don’t want the guest preacher wading in on post-Covid politics, do you?
He told me to suck it up.
A few weeks before, one of the students in my preaching class quoted someone to the effect that you can have many loves but only one treasure. I liked that. I wrote it down. And it struck me, as I thought about John in the dungeon of Herod’s palace while all the revelers upstairs gorged and besotted themselves, and watched the grisly pageant of John’s head served on a platter, that something similar is true here.
You can have many loyalties but only one allegiance.
You can be loyal to your school, loyal to your girl, loyal to your guy, loyal to your flag, loyal to your tribe, loyal to your favorite airline, loyal to your political party, loyal to your theological camp.
The heart can hold a thousand loyalties
But only one allegiance.
John the Baptist got that. Herod, he was too clueless and cowardly to even know that.
John pursued the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. Herod pursued the kingdom of self and his own fragile ego.
I think many Christians got confused about loyalties and allegiances over the past few years. Too many of us took hold of a loyalty, or three – loyalty to a political person or party, to a philosophical or medical or cultural view, to an ideology – and elevated to an allegiance.
An allegiance is our one reckoning. It is our single non-negotiable. It is our only priority. It is the sole conviction and passion that controls, moderates and, if needed, displaces all loyalties. Nothing comes before it. All things must bow to it.
It is the hill we are willing to die on.
The hill we are willing to die on. Such a poignant phrase. That gets to the heart of the matter for Christ followers. Our single allegiance is Christ, the one willing to die on a hill for us and, frankly, the only one who commands our sole allegiance.
Christ alone is Lord.
Not left or right.
Not liberal or conservative.
Not socialism or capitalism.
Not anti this or pro that.
Those are all mere loyalties.
And a loyalty must never become an allegiance, or … or, we get the world we have now: divided over a thousand things, many of them little and petty.
Our hope is built on nothing less – and nothing else – than Jesus Christ.
He alone is our sole allegiance. Everything else must bow.
Coming in February.....Finally.......
Book Two of the David Trilogy
Watch for details coming soon!