And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
-- Hebrews 11:6
When you hear the word allegiance, what comes to mind?
Citizens of a certain age remember that the Pledge of Allegiance was recited each morning in classrooms across the nation--with millions of students placing their right hand over their heart--and all in front of the American flag. It was a daily declaration of devotion to the Stars and Stripes and the republic it represents.
Being a Christ-follower also calls for allegiance, but to One much greater than any flag or nation. In fact, Jesus requires total devotion from his disciples and would-be followers. Being half-hearted and non-committal won't make the cut.
The lives of Believers must therefore reflect their faith in Him in tangible ways. That doesn't mean we have to earn God's favor through good works and morality, following a set of rules, going to church religiously and putting some money in the bucket each Sunday. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our so-called "good" deeds are considered "filthy rags" when compared to God's high standards of perfection. That's why Jesus--who actually DID live a perfect, sin-free life--was the only one worthy enough to pay the penalty we all deserve for failing our Creator.
Although we're powerless to save ourselves, our Savior did so willingly to accomplish what was planned at the foundation of the universe. It's through this sacrifice that he made it possible for his followers in the centuries that followed to serve as his hands and feet on earth. To illustrate the importance of his incredible mission, Jesus told a story about a master who gave each of his three servants a considerable sum of money to invest while he was away on an extended trip. After a while, the master returned to claim what was his. He was very pleased with the first two servants, who had used their funds wisely. Their efforts and willingness to risk their allocations resulted in doubling the master's money. But it wasn't so with the third servant. He was afraid of his boss' stern reputation and didn't want to risk a loss. So instead, he played it safe and literally buried what was entrusted to him in a hole in the ground.
This is where modern-day Christ-followers enter the picture. Like the three servants in the story, we've also received resources, skills and opportunities to invest in the lives of others. The beneficiaries could be your spouse, sibling or child. They might be a co-worker, neighbor, villagers in Central America...or maybe someone God puts in your path through unexpected circumstances.
So here's the question: How are we investing what God has given to us? Are we putting our faith into action and changing the world one person at a time...or are we playing it safe? Ultimately, the answer depends on our allegiance.