The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself—that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, "But those who are right with God will live by faith."
-- Romans 1:17
When you hear the word allegiance, what comes to mind? For millions of Americans of a certain age, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited every morning in school classrooms--with students placing their right hand over their heart--and all in front of the flag. It was a daily declaration of devotion to the Stars and Stripes and the great nation it stands for.
Being a Christ-follower also calls for allegiance, but to One much greater than any flag or country. In fact, Jesus called for total devotion from His disciples and would-be followers. He rejected half-heartedness and non-committal. “Whoever wants to be my disciple,” He explained, “must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” In other words, it’s not about us--it’s all about Him. It therefore makes sense that as Believers, our lives must show tangible actions that reflect our faith in Him. We need to live out our beliefs rather than just talking about them.
Jesus once told a story about a master who gave each of his three servants a considerable amount of money (“talents”) to invest while he was away on an extended trip. After a time, the master returned to claim what was his. He was very pleased with the first two servants, who had invested their talents and doubled the master’s money. But it wasn’t so with the third servant, who was afraid of his master’s stern reputation and wanted to avoid the risk of a loss. So instead of investing, he played it safe and literally buried the money in a hole in the ground. The master was displeased, to say the least! Instead of commending the servant’s regard for safeguarding his money, the master was actually furious because the servant had wasted the opportunity to invest and multiply his treasure.
The cautious servant had actually squandered his life--along with all his talents and opportunities!
It’s a lesson we shouldn’t take lightly. God has given us all particular resources, skills, opportunities and circumstances for doing His will through our contact with others. These “others” could be as close as your spouse, sibling or child. And they might also be a co-worker, neighbor or someone who God puts in your path at a most unexpected moment. But we’re not alone along the way. Like a marathon runner who’s committed to crossing the finish line, we actually have a rooting section to spur us on to victory. The twelfth chapter of Hebrews explains that we’re surrounded by a great cloud of believers who've already completed their faith journeys. It’s by following their examples of effective, faith-filled living that we should run our own race with determination and perseverance. Anything that could get in our way and hold us back must fall by the wayside.
If it sounds like Jesus asks for a lot from His followers, He does. He’s asking for your total allegiance...as well as your life. Even more daunting is that a lot of people are watching--including some who doubt your commitment. What’s the answer? It's to faithfully obey, pray and believe that ours is a God Who can provide in the toughest of situations. And that might seem risky. But when He calls us to do something, risk isn’t even part of the equation.