just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Christian pledge of allegiance...

I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ,
And to God’s kingdom for which he died—
One Spirit-led people the world over, indivisible,
With love and justice for all.

By June Alliman Yoder and J. Nelson Kraybill

I am thinking about what it means that certain Christians display the Christian flag...or say the pledge of allegiance to the American flag in the context of worship or Church activities.

Fred Bahnson offers such a helpful statement on why Christians should pledge their allegiance to Jesus, and not to a flag. Ultimately the question becomes one of who we believe is in control of history...and what are the means that will bring about the Kingdom of God--the sword or the cross.

To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ, to seek first the Kingdom of God. It is difficult to take this stand in a time of war and against the fervor of Empire and patriotism. What if all Christians of the world would begin to act upon the belief that the teachings of Jesus are for the "real world"?

If Jesus is in fact King over all, Lord over the nations...why must we bring into the context of church symbols and agenda of nation/state? The idolatry of politics, of nation-state, of civil religion... church as chaplain to the agenda and interests of a temporal Kingdom...all of these are distortions.

I appreciated Ryan Ahlgrim's letter in The Mennonite recently. I am resonant with his view that he does not expect the government to be pacifist. He writes, "My own position is more nuanced than the strict two-kingdom theology of the early Anabaptists: I will witness to our government to avoid war whenever possible, and I will protest when it abuses its power. But unlike my expectations for Christians and the church, I do not expect the national government to be pacifist and do not see how it can be. Maybe Christ's Spirit will transform even states to be nonviolent, but this will not happen because of our protests and political action."

I like the pledge offered by Nelson Kraybill and June Alliman Yoder. I believe it clarifies the type of commitment followers of Jesus are call to...even in a world that views such a stance as disloyal and irresponsible.


  • At 8:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    In my visits to the US, with all the flags on display - some of them very very large, and then citizens reciting, with hand on heart, the pledge of allegiance all through school, at ball games, before government meetings etc.... to me coming from outside US and never having to have pledged to anything or anybody, it seemed like a kind of brainwashing (especially for children not even understanding it). If you don't accept that, it is certain to me that the American flag is an idol, worshipped by the American people.

  • At 8:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Just to add to my comment above : I remember last year, an American friend (naturalised) saying in a 4th July church service, about the way a flag is to be folded, and all the rules around displaying the flag etc - most with "religious" meaning. She said she didn't realise how "religious" the US was - and that is true. That is different of course to Jesus being first, and your life being pledged to HIM.

    Will a piece of cloth with stars and stripes being printed on it save you? So why stand facing, saluting and pledge allegiance to it?!

  • At 3:26 PM , Anonymous Howdy said...

    The personal development industry has never been bigger! It consists of a myriad of authors basically telling us how to improve our lives. We are constantly being told self help and self improvement has never been easier. New techniques, gadgets and potions adorn the shelves of new age shops and the 1 billion dollar industry, that is personal development, offers many different approaches to help better our lives. They offer ways to increase our bounty and ultimately alter our own reality. A great example of this is how to develop a Prosperity Consciousness. But does this state really exist and if it does will it bring the effortless unlimited wealth promised?
    A lot has been written about prosperity and how to attain it. We have been told by many religious traditions and every personal development guru that the Universersal Source (God, Spirit, Cosmic Mind or whatever label you chose to give it) is boundless wealth. We are also told that abundance, wealth and prosperity are our birthright! Why then are so many people ill, broke, frustrated and unfulfilled? Can a person really develop a prosperity consciousness and effortlessly attract wealth? Well as with everything in life there is only one way to find out. Test it for yourself!

    Before we can attain and then test the effectiveness of having a prosperity consciousness we need to understand some basic truths. Let's start by explaining three fundamentals of personal development namely; 1. The Universal Source is all wealth, abundance and prosperity; 2. Prosperity is our birthright; 3. You get more of what you focus on.

    1. Why are we told that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth? - Because the Universal Source is the consciousness of the Universe - a universe that is still expanding. It is the driving force behind physical reality. It created everything you see, hear, touch and smell as well as all that we are unaware of (microwaves, radiation, air etc.). It has been stated in religious and metaphysical traditions that this intelligence is not only the Source of everything but that it is also the substance of it! It creates the Universe from itself! It is omnipresent (everywhere present). That means that the entire seen and unseen aspects of the universe are a part of this Universal Source. Science reaffirms this theory as it states that nothing is solid and everything is just one mass of pure energy that vibrates at different frequencies and gives the illusion of separateness.
    So we can now claim that the Universal Source is unlimited wealth, abundance and prosperity with some belief. For if this Source is the very substance of everything then it is all the wealth, abundance and prosperity that exists at this very moment!
    Ok so far? Now lets look at the second point - prosperity is our birthright.

    2. If this Universal Intelligence is the source and substance of all things then there can be only one intelligence in the Universe. Jesus said to his disciples "know ye not that you are the temple of the living God?" Buddha attained enlightenment and "oneness". The list of these religious teachings are too numerous to mention but their message remains the same - God (Universal Substance) resides within and around us. It's very substance makes up our physical body and the world around us - "For in him we live, move and have our being" Acts17:28. Therefore, if this Universal Source is at the very core of our being and is the substance from which we take physical form then it stands to reason that we are connected to everyone else and in fact everything else around us - we are a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the universe. Just as your hand or foot is a part of your body, so every grain of sand, blade of grass, wisp of wind, bar of gold and brick that is laid in a mansion is part of you. The unlimited wealth of the universe is yours for the claiming. It is already yours, always has been and always will be. It is a part of you.
    Ok let's go the third point - you get more of what you focus on.

    3. "It never rains but it pours", is a saying I have used myself in the past. Have you ever wondered why such a statement appears to be true? Well metaphysics and religion tell us that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" or as Job cried out to God "For that which I greatly feared has come upon me". What we focus our conscious attention on increases! Don't believe me? Test it for yourself! If you can muster up the strength to do it then think in negative terms for a week. Judge everything that happens to you in negative terms and think only of a negative outcome and watch what happens in your world!!! This is a relatively easy experiment as we are conditioned to think negatively by the world. A word of warning though - once you prove that your focus determines your reality stop thinking negative thoughts as best you can.
    I will not go into the 'hows' of why our focus has such a profound influence on our lives (that would be the subject of a book or perhaps a future article) just prove to yourself that it does. A clue can be found in the teachings of Jesus when he said "The Kingdom of heaven is within".
    So now we have the three principles of the prosperity consciousness explained let's put it to work. The attainment of a prosperity consciousness is relatively simple - just think on the first two principles until you fully understand them and integrate them into your consciousness. As you focus on them you will discover that your feelings of lack disappear and you begin to feel a connection with everything around you. It is really just an attitude shift - nothing metaphysical or mystical about it at all. You begin to consciously realize that everything is a part of you. Your focus changes from poverty to wealth.
    If it helps make a list of affirmations that correspond to the two principles outlined e.g. "God is the Source and substance of everything", "I am at one with everyone and everything around me", "I am a part of all the wealth, abundance and prosperity of the Universe" etc. Don't just rhyme them off in a parrot like manner, think on them and realize the scientific or spiritual truths behind them.

    Will it work? Well I can say now that if you follow the above instructions a real change will happen in you. You will start to see the beauty of the world and the unlimited resources that are available within and around you. Will you attain wealth, abundance and prosperity? Test it for yourself! subliminal

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