For do I now persuade men or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ – Galatians 1:10
Late last July, Simone Biles, 24, the most successful US gymnast of all time, said she had to focus on her mental health after pulling out of the women’s team Olympics final. The head of the US Olympic team and fellow athletes praised Biles’ decision to prioritise her mental wellbeing. It became clear in the days since she withdrew, that though Biles may have wanted to compete, she was physically incapable of doing so without potentially endangering herself. Naturally, this stirred up a lot of controversies, as Biles had to weigh up her “duty to her country” vs her duty to herself. For her to make this bold and courageous decision was not easy but necessary. In a way, you could liken her bold decision to the daily decisions and stances we take as Christians living in a secular world. When it is time to make a countercultural decision, who is your allegiance to when it is time to choose?
Who should our allegiance be to?
As Christians, we declare Jesus as our Lord and our Saviour. When we walk around, we carry His image and His essence, “…we are God’s handiwork created for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). The day we said yes to Jesus, we made the choice to follow Him and be associated with Him (Matthew 16:24-26). In other words, we are fully committed to the principles of God’s Word and commands, through our words and deeds. Whenever possible we share the Good News of the Gospel and carry out the great commission, that is our mission on this earth. To make known the truth to all men and to be used for the glory of God. Anything that promotes God’s character and values, that is what we love and associate with e.g. the wellbeing of the church, social justice, charity etc. It is so important for us to know who our allegiance is to because it acts as an anchor when life’s challenges come our way, our foundation must be God’s truth (Matthew 7:24-27).
When will our allegiance be challenged?
Even when we know who our allegiance is to, that doesn’t stop challenges coming our way. In school, workplaces and politics- our allegiance will be questioned. Similarly, we will be tested around lifestyle habits, our speech and sexuality. God has given us free will to make a conscious decision and choose, our choices show the world who we belong to “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16). When the world looks to Christians, what do they see? The weight of the world can feel overwhelming and overpowering but we must remember that greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4), the Holy Spirit will empower us to do what is pleasing to God. During our faith walk, we may find that we must make difficult decisions when it comes to family, friends, and relationships and this will stretch us in ways that are uncomfortable, but the reward will be great. The same way Jesus lived a life set apart for His mission on earth, is the same way we have been called to be set apart and used to carry out God’s mission on earth.
Standing strong in our faith
So how can we stand strong in our faith and always pay allegiance to God? Be the light in the darkness? We need to depend unwaveringly on the Holy Spirit, this level of obedience and discipline cannot be done in our own strength. Not only this, we must not forget to gather with other believers to be encouraged and be held accountable; but most importantly to remember that we are not running our race alone. Finally, it is important to know your boundaries/stumbling blocks. Anything that can interfere with you showing full allegiance to God and His word, and this requires personal self-reflection.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God1 Corinthians 10:3
In this life, our faith will be tested. Our foundations will be shaken but, in these moments, where we will be forced to make a choice, who will our allegiance be to? There may be times we stumble but we can always decide once again to choose Jesus. He is a choice that we will never regret.