How to Proclaim the Allegiance Gospel: A Story

“How is it that other people, who seem to have their {bleep} together, don’t seem to notice that there is pain in the world, or if they do, they can manage. But me, I see nothing but pain in the world and can only deal with it by getting high and numbing myself?”

I had just recently met the guy when he asked this question. I’ve had the privilege of connecting with many neighbors in recovery and seem to find my way into these kinds of conversations.

When my friend, let’s call him John (not his real name), asked this question, it was coming from a place of deep pain. He was just a month or two into another round of sobriety and trying, maybe grasping, for an understanding of why he couldn’t seem to find hope in a hopeless situation. What might you say in response?

Sharing the allegiance gospel

While there are plenty of great and faithful ways to answer this question, my attempt in this article is to share one that is informed by the idea of gospel allegiance. Much has been written on what gospel allegiance is and how it is deeply rooted in the Bible, but as someone who is less of a scholar and more “an on the ground practitioner,” I offer how I find the allegiance model to be exceptional for how we are present with people, noticing and naming the presence of God, and participating with Jesus.

“John,” I replied, “I’ve come to believe that people in recovery have the clearest view of reality of anyone I know. The reality is there is great pain and suffering around us. Some can avoid it because of income or privilege, others avoid it by numbing themselves from feeling the effects.

“But it’s only when we recognize that we, in ourselves don’t have the power to do much about it, that we might surrender our illusion of autonomy and consent to the one who truly has power and authority to renew all things. His name is Jesus. He is the King who loves people and desires for his peaceful rule to begin in your life.”

“Gino,” John replied, “I always thought that God was angry with me because I’m a {bleep} up. I never thought I may be seeing the world the way he does. I know that I can’t run my life well on my own. I’ve proven that. I don’t know if God loves me or even tolerates me, but I know I can’t continue to trust myself in everything.”

It’s about who you trust

To me, “trusting myself” is an allegiance issue. Who does John believe is the most faithful and true leader for his life? Himself or someone else? Well, the last decade has proven to himself that he is not a good and wise leader for himself. He is impatient, impulsive, fearful, and selfish —just like me.

The way I see it, John is beginning to switch allegiances out of necessity. He believes that if he stays “true to himself,” he will end up dead. So that isn’t an option for him anymore. The question now is to whom does John pledge his allegiance?

A sponsor? A trusted friend? A local pastor? While any or all of these people may have a better plan for John’s life than he does, John will eventually find that the weight of responsibility for managing his life can’t be held up by other people.

I can’t “fix” John nor would it be loving to try and control him. What I can offer him is to be present with him and create space for him to see the faithfulness of Jesus on his behalf. To begin to explore with John how Jesus’s faithfulness to and for John, is why John can pledge allegiance to Jesus as his hope in this world and beyond.

Proclaiming the gospel is a process

Please notice that I said “be present with him and create space for him.” This is a process, not an event. In this space and through presence, the Spirit of God does work without coercion. This is often a slow process and doesn’t always end with a conversion.

And here’s some beautifully good news for us: Our “pledge of allegiance” to Jesus is participating in his mission, not enacting it. If the changing of allegiance (from self to Jesus) is a spiritual conversion, then you and I can’t convert a single person (it’s not our role).

We’re not in control of the outcomes

So our faithfulness to Jesus can’t be measured by the number of conversions we see. However, part of our faithfulness to Jesus is demonstrated by being present and making space for the faithfulness of Jesus to potentially take root in other’s lives.

Faithfulness, allegiance to Jesus, informs not just what I might say but how and why I would find myself in situations where I could even have a conversation in the first place.

This work by Gravity Commons is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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  1. Jesse on December 30, 2019 at 12:10 am


  2. Phillip Corbell on December 30, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    All I can say is “please say more about this”!!

    This is the antidote to “ministry anxiety”, or at least one of them. This has so many implications to our everyday lives—it really needs to be unpacked further. How does this impact our relationships within our family, neighborhoods, friend groups, and those we would want to evangelize to? We need PATIENCE that only comes from a embodied belief that God cares more about all these things than we do, and yet He is willing to take a lifetime to show someone what they need to know and understand. We need to meditate on the Patience of JESUS in changing hearts and minds. He lacks nothing, yet he heals our world patiently and perfectly. When we are visibly anxious about helping others making a change to their lives, we are not introducing them to the God we are trying to serve.

  3. Gino Curcuruto on January 27, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Hi Phillip,

    Thanks for your feedback. I completely agree with you that the allegiance model changes how we enter into conversations and can reduce anxiety about making things happen.

    Can you tell me more about what you’d like to see unpacked? I definitely would enjoy hearing that and writing about it. I have a few more articles on this topic in the works, so this would be a great help to me.

    Also, I have written before on my admiration of Jesus’ patience in ministry (and how I am not!). if you’re interested, take a look:

    Again, thanks for the feedback and hope to hear more from you.

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