Flags tell a story… but they also reveal our loyalties!
For decades of my lifetime, the Fourth of July – or, Independence Day as it’s denoted on the list of federal holidays – was a time that appeared to bring communities together. Parks filled with families; hot dog sales peaked (150 million over this holiday, when last reported); fireworks – both private explosions and public extravaganzas – would cap the celebration. The origins of America as a country founded on the embrace of inalienable rights – namely Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – seemed to bring everyone together in collaborative concert of celebration. Are those days no more?
Last week, I accompanied my friend Steve Amerson to Washington. His past as a classic tenor – with great standing in both Christian and popular musical genres – became his onramp to his Kingdom Calling. A graduate of The Master’s Program, God orchestrated the path to a unique ministry in America’s Capitol – among members of Congress and their staffs – that places him in service to those lawmakers who live in the crosshairs of conflict.
In the course of 36 hours, we walked the six buildings that house the offices of 100 Senators and 435 Representatives and their personal staffs; all-tolled, over 12,000 people. We walked 10 miles, through the labyrinth of tunnels and hallways connecting the workspaces in those six buildings, delivering nearly 200 hand-written notes of encouragement to the elected members on his route.
As we made Steve’s rounds, we had innumerable personal encounters: janitors, Capitol Police, members of Congress; most resulted in moments of prayer. We spent 30 minutes with Ted Budd, elected to Congress in 2016 from the 13th District of North Carolina, now in contention in 2022 for a seat in the US Senate. Ted has advanced degrees in business from Wake Forest, in theology from Dallas Seminary, and in leadership from The Master’s Program. He’s confident that he’s found his Calling in political office; for him, the only loyalty greater than Family and Country is the Kingdom.
Alongside the door to each Member’s office are flags; all have the American flag as well as their home state. Many have additional flags on display, denoting various affiliations and affections. Some are flash points of conflict that evoke strong emotions and differences of opinion…
In this time of cultural chaos and political polarization, how are we supposed to position ourselves as Christians seeking to measure-up to God’s high expectations?
The 1st Century followers of Jesus were under the political flag of Rome, a nation complicit in the criminal execution of their Messiah and Lord. Peter’s counsel to them was striking; it is still a challenge for us to embrace today: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:11-17).
What flags are flying outside your virtual office today? Establishing the hierarchy among your loyalties is crucial as you seek to maximize your eternal impact. Where are yours?