Fleeting Allegiances

At work, I see the devastating effects of young men and women dedicating their lives to a Chicago gang. It will grip them and hold them and it won’t let go! They pledge allegiance to a philosophy, power and financial gain. The results are sometimes fatal, but at the very least, devastating. A dream was sold, a concept was grasped, a life was imprisoned and a family scattered!

As I ponder; I witness, speak to and engage these gangsters and realize a life behind bars is not just the physical reality of seeing the inside of Cook County Jail and an impending movement down state to another cell block. An internal imprisonment is granted as another young soul pledged allegiance to the “5 or 6 pointed star” nation! It is a bondage that is so strong, this young soul carries this burden his or her whole life. After seeing the dream was a lie, the now older soul struggles to tear this burden from his tired back only for it to remain and stick like super-glue!

Often in vain, I have discouraged the young from joining and encouraged the old to escape. Like an addiction, people flee only to find themselves embraced once again by the life “they know”. Ironically, I would say this is a life of uneasy security and uncomfortable comfort. My souls mourns over these imprisoned souls and I can only retreat to the wonderful gift of prayer, knowing this “power” or “force” is too great for mere mortals to tangle with. “Be still and know that I am God”

But, how different am I? They, like me, seek to live a life worthy of the heavenly kingdom. “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death?” The battle in Romans 7 only echoes the inner turmoil of gang bangers seeking redemption. It is not an exclusive trait; it permeates throughout humankind seeking to devour its prey through our own pledging of allegiances to fleeting realities such as the flag, country, military, social status, family, sex, sports, church, music, technology and media! Yet, we cannot and must not forget the power and influence of money and materialism, which Jesus aptly gave the title “Mammon”, knowing humanity will struggle not to bow down and worship it.

My battle is to make sure that my allegiance bows to the foolishness of the cross, not the power and influence of kingdoms like Mammon and Technology. Dreams are sold and faith is lost, but the cross breaks the bondage and sets us free. Jesus told us plainly we cannot serve two masters, and the Kingdom of God is continually fighting against the many kingdoms that rise against it. Yet, we can rest in the beauty, seen in Revelation, that the weak Lamb murdered on a foolish cross defeated all kingdoms and beasts, and we can live in a resurrected hope!

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