Every person is subject to the issue of primary allegiance. Everyone believes in something which takes precedence over everything else in life. This allegiance shapes and informs the way a person lives and determines how he treats other people. The world would be a far better place to live if people would consider this question on a regular basis and answer it honestly in their own hearts. It is likely that most people either are dishonest about it or have never given it any thought at all.
I can’t condemn anyone for their refusal to think this through or their ignorance about it. I have only come to a full understanding of it recently and am still trying to sort out the implications in my own mind. However, what I do know beyond doubt is that there is a lot of stuff out of whack in our world and we’ve got to decide what we’re going to do about it.
One area this can be seen very plainly is in the socio-politico-economic realm. It is becoming clear to me that the rule of Jesus Christ and the rule of the humanist State are on a collision course. Sooner or later, the professing Christian is going to have to choose between these two governments. Is the Christian’s primary allegiance to Jesus Christ or to the State? Where does the Christian draw the line against the actions of the State? Should the Christian ever draw that line?
“No man can serve two masters. He will love the one and hate the other or he will despise the one and worship the other.” These words of Jesus Christ, loosely paraphrased, are as true today as they were two thousand years ago when they were spoken. His words were meant to contrast God’s salvation vs. the inordinate love of money, but there are many instances in history where people have lost everything, including their lives, because they refused to worship the ruling system. The Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians is a good example. Many thousands of people were literally slaughtered for one reason—they recognized that the rule of Jesus in their lives took precedence and authority over the rule of the emperor. They asserted that there was only one Lord and his name was not Vespasian, Titus, Nero, Trajan, or Domitian. This was viewed by the political rulers as treasonous insurrection and they acted as States always do when faced with opposition—use whatever means are necessary to eliminate and crush it.
Today America is becoming more humanistic, more socialist, more demanding, more brutal. There is virtually no place left in the United States that is not touched by the long, regulatory arm of the State. More than eighty thousand pages per year are added to the Federal Register, which have the force of law as soon as they are written. Wars are started and fought at the whim of the President who doesn’t even bother to ask permission any more. Special interests and lobbyists persuade Congress to write laws which will benefit them regardless of who it will harm. Police brutality is on the rise. Justice has given way to “law enforcement”. No one is exempt; everyone must pay and we pay dearly.
Can a person profess to be a Christian and still support the State system which is against many, if not most, of the principles of the Christian religion? Again, no person can serve two masters. This is where the rubber meets the road. Here is where self-conscious thought about what it means to be a Christian comes in because these two philosophies are at odds with each other and can never be reconciled. In order to avoid any misunderstanding on that statement let me rephrase it. The rule of Jesus Christ and the rule of a secular humanist State are in conflict with each other and every self-conscious, professing Christian has to make a decision as to which side he is going to serve. There is no straddling the fence, no playing both sides. It is one or the other, but not both.
There is one aspect of both these governments which is the same—each one seeks to bring all its constituents into total, unconditional surrender to its rule. Jesus demands that of his followers and so too does the State. This surrender is brought about over time and in history as individual people are converted, peacefully or violently, and assimilated into the realm. Both the Church (the visible representation of Christ’s rule on Earth) and the State (the highest representation of man’s rule on Earth) are engaged in this endeavor which can only be viewed accurately over extended periods of time.
It is important to understand one major difference between these two.
Jesus Christ extends His rule in the earth through love, kindness, compassion, generosity, self-control, humility, etc., and forgiveness of those who transgress the rules. This is completely non-violent and unforceful in nature. People come into the Church voluntarily and without coercion. People are set free by their willing adherence to the truth as they progressively allow the Holy Spirit to take over their lives. His way leads to life and liberty for the individual believer.
The State, on the other hand, extends its rule through the use of brute force, mandatory compulsion, directives, orders, legislation, etc., and punishment or retribution against those who are opposed to it. There is nothing voluntary about the State. It is “follow the rules, or else.” The State rules by violence or the threat of violence. As people are subsumed into its culture, they are increasingly bound, restricted, and enslaved by bureaucratic red tape at all levels of government, from federal to local. The end of the State is the death of freedom and slavery for most people.
Let me be perfectly frank. There is a war going on here, a spiritual war to be sure, but a war nevertheless. It is for the hearts and minds of men everywhere and there is no place on Earth which is left untouched by it. It has existed from the very beginning and will continue until the very end. Everyone is involved in it. Whether a person actively acknowledges it or not is irrelevant.
Many times in history this war has become physical. There are numerous instances when the State has “declared” war on the Church and engaged in violent, aggressive action to defeat and stamp out its enemy. This is increasingly the norm in America today. More and more the State is encroaching on territory which belongs to the Church. The State is demanding that the Church submit its authority to that of the State, even if that submission goes against what the Church stands for.
There may very well come a time in America when each Christian has to make a decision in this regard. Will I live for my King, Jesus the Christ, even if it costs me everything up to and possibly including my life? Will I throw in the towel on my professed beliefs and transfer my allegiance to the opposing side, the State? This is something which you must be prepared for beforehand. When the time arrives, if it hasn’t already, that the State tells you to act contrary to your stated beliefs, you must have already determined your course of action or else you will follow the State’s orders. Refusing to surrender your life to the rule of King Jesus means that you will surrender it to the rule of the State.
The words of Elijah (1 Kings 18:21) ring as true today as they did when he spoke them on Mount Carmel thousands of years ago. I have loosely paraphrased them. “How long will you waver between two opposing views? If the LORD is sovereign, follow Him. If the State is sovereign, follow it.” What’s interesting is the next sentence. “And the people did not answer him at all.” They were waiting to see who was going to win the battle before they made a choice. We cannot go down that road. The State is going down. Jesus is going to win this war. And the next one. And the next. There is only one possibility of ultimate victory. Choose wisely and, once you have chosen, do not back down.