Study Guide: Our One and Only Allegiance

Sunday December 28, 2008 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus tells us that “no one can serve two masters.” But what could this possibly mean? Don’t we all have many obligations and responsibilities? This message challenges us to live every area of our life in devotion to God.

Extended Summary:

In this passage Jesus states that one can’t serve two masters. He doesn’t say “can’t serve two masters equally.” He says you can’t serve two masters at all. It’s one of most radical, brilliant and misunderstood teachings of Jesus. A “master” is any person or thing you assume a servant posture toward, have an obligation to serve or have allegiance to. To apply Jesus’ teaching here, we need to ask questions like:

When we ask these questions, it becomes clear that some of our masters are good and “normal” while others are destructive. A typical person may have a list of masters that would include: God, wealth, job, family, friends, physical appearance, addictions, religion, nationalism, sports and hobbies. Some of these masters are normal, necessary and good, but others are very destructive. The question is: Why would Jesus say that we can’t serve two? We serve more than two all the time!

If you serve God, there can be no competitors. If God is your master, then he’s not merely to be a master among many, not even the most important master among many. He’s your only master, your only Lord, the only one we assume a servant posture towards. But that seems insane, for we have obligations to money, career, family, friends, health. So what does Jesus mean?

Jesus is calling those who follow him to place everything under the reign of God, not to simply put God in the pot with all or our other obligations. Whatever allegiances we have are only aspects of our allegiance to God, and whatever is outside his character and will is not something we should have any allegiance to. Jesus is inviting us to a radically centered and integrated life. At every moment, in every situation, you have one obligation, that is to do God’s will. By earning money, using wealth as he wills, loving family, serving friends, submitting to government as much as possible, staying healthy, even engaging in recreation, all of these should be acts of worship to our one and only allegiance.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Go through the above questions and list the “masters of your universe.”
  2. How do these “masters” compete with one another?
  3. How do they compete with your allegiance to God?
  4. How does this message challenge your way of doing life and how you manage your masters?
  5. Spend some time praying right now and listening to God about how you can reframe the way you relate to the various masters in your life.