Allegiance: The Heart of Discipleship
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the
[This blog was first published in March, 2012, in Call To Prayer, the online prayer magazine of Assemblies of God World Missions, and can be seen at www.ag.org.]
While we were home on itineration, I visited a convenience store where I saw a woman wearing a beautiful T-shirt that described the reality and necessity of Christ’s death on the Cross. Both the theology it expressed and the artwork truly glorified God. But before I could compliment her on it, she stepped up to the cashier, bought lottery tickets, and left the store. I stood there wondering if she had any idea that the message she wore on her body totally contradicted the one she held in her hand.
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ—a true disciple worthy of his name? The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls for a change of allegiance, renouncing the past in terms of its worldview, which lies at the core of our being. Worldview can simply be explained as a pair of eyeglasses through which we perceive reality, define values, and decide actions. Since our worldview begins to develop the day we are born and is strongly conditioned by the environment in which we live, we seldom question it. Asking the average person to describe their worldview is like asking a fish to describe water. It’s hard to explain it when it’s all you have ever known.
A good example would be our cultural concept of “rugged individualism,” no doubt born out our westward frontier expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries. This can be seen in everything from Frank Sinatra’s hit song I Did it My Way to abortion and the right to die movement. We rightfully cry out against these immoral practices, but do we examine our own lives and see how deeply this attitude is ingrained in us and how often our insistence on our rights runs contrary to the biblical model of interdependence within the body of Christ and the scriptural examples of close knit families?
Proverbs 4:23 speaks to clearly to the need to examine our own worldview under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As this passage suggests, our values and actions flow out of who we really are. Having a biblical worldview, then, is a vital component of discipleship. Without it, our cultural environment will define our values and actions.
Allegiance is the heart of the issue (Proverbs 4:20-23). Since what we do flows out of who we really are, a good way find out what’s really important to us might be to take a look at our checkbooks. Does having a nice car or designer jeans get in the way of tithing, supporting missions, and caring for the poor? Does watching TV or working more hours to make more money interfere with taking appropriate time for our family and church?
A true change of allegiance must result in a change of worldview in order to bringing lasting impact on our daily lives. 2 Corinthians 5:17 teaches us that being a new creation in Christ involves leaving behind the old ways of thinking, with its selfish (and ultimately self-destructing) pursuits, and taking on a biblical worldview that weighs all things in this life by what the Bible teaches, calling for new values, attitudes and actions. In other words, discipleship means that our allegiance is to Christ, not to ourselves. .
*All Scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
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Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson