Keeping promises that matter in a secular world
I was recently at a meeting where the speaker suggested that, as a Christian, I should repent of my idolatrous allegiances. He had in mind such allegiances as the Boy Scout oath and the oath those of us who have served in the military or held public office or become citizens made to uphold the Constitution. These allegiances, he explained, have spiritual power over me because I have obligated myself, by a solemn oath, to an authority other than Christ.
I am bothered by this thinking. I believe the best soldiers in spiritual warfare are those who have learned the art of soldiering this side of eternity, that the most important promises we make in this life – to a spouse, to a constituency, to our polis – are preparing us for the life of allegiance to God. My Reformed worldview sees these earthly institutions as orders of creation where we learn the lessons of mutual submission and sacrifice. Isn’t that what he meant when Jesus blessed the faith of the centurion, commenting on the value of living in submission to our earthly heads. The centurion has the correct understanding of faith, “For I myself am a man under authority.” (Luke 7:8)
So Paul, writing to Titus can even expect that Cretans like us would:
“. . . be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, and to be peaceful and considerate, and to show true humility to all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)
Our calling is to “seek the peace and prosperity” (Jeremiah 29:11) of our community, being salt and light in those orders of creation (family, community, government) which God established, and speaking prophetically when those institutions reflect the values of the fall (sexism, racism, misuse of creation).
This Fourth of July, celebrate with your neighbors the many promises that have made our community such a wonderful place to live. Then explain to your neighbor that you take these promises seriously because you, too, are a person under the authority of Jesus Christ.
With you in on the mission, Pastor Doug Fakkema, Anacortes CRC