When I was a kid, the first thing we did at school every day was recite the Pledge of Allegiance with our teacher.
Hands over hearts.
I’m not really sure we completely understood what we were saying. But we said it because that’s what you do.
As far as I know, Coca-Cola has been working on you and I since we were the same age or younger, creating brand loyal, lifelong customers. You’re either a “Coke” person or a “Pepsi” person.
We pledge our allegiance…to a soft drink brand.
Can you imagine that soft drink brands got to us before our country did?
I’m pretty sure many of us are Apple loyalists. I cannot imagine switching sides at this point. Our cellular providers know that our allegiance mostly comes down to necessity, which is why I’m sure all of our bills are going up exponentially.
There are people who are loyal to a brand of car. Many of us have allegiance and pride for the cities we live in. We have allegiances to sports teams (usually based on their geographical location, which is an odd thing in and of itself, but it taps into the basest caveman instincts for tribalism. “Me like these guys who hit the thing with the thing because they live here. Me hate those other guys who hit the thing with the thing because they live there.”)
We are told to be loyal to party politics, one of the most poisonous forces in our culture. How many of you feel like either you changed or the labels “conservative” and “liberal” did?
And as a pastor, I saw just how hard it is to enjoy peoples’ allegiance in church. Every week, something took people away.
Jesus told his followers that allegiance to him cannot be shared with money. Either you serve money, or you serve him. On another occasion, he drew a line between Caesar and God.
But we live in a world of distraction, and every distraction vies for our undying loyalty, our little pledges of allegiance (or at least a two-year contract.)
I thought about my complicated relationship with the Pledge of Allegiance this weekend, while I enjoyed celebrating. Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy being an American. But being an American and pledging allegiance is really nothing more than a nifty little motto for most of us. Our lives are filled with much nearer forces that want to consume our lives, enjoy our undying loyalty.
Our allegiance is marked by what is in our pockets, in our stomachs, on our wrists, or in our earphones.
How excited do we get when we have bought the newest gadget from our favorite brand? Does it compare to the excitement we feel for things that truly matter?