In the news recently, there have been several reports of people disrespecting the American flag. In fact, there seems to be a trend in a certain segment of our culture nowadays to manifest a flagrant disregard for the institutions which have been the foundation of this country. Much of this attitude has been brought about by our educational institutions abandoning their charge of teaching our history and, even in some cases, teaching our children that America is to blame for all the ills in the world.
Some will say that the flag is nothing but a piece of cloth. It is true that the flag is made up of cloth but I would suggest it is something more than mere cloth because it stands for an idea. If someone wanted to burn or stomp on their own clothes or some useless rags, that is their choice. But the flag stands for high and lofty ideas and that is what makes it important. Of course, it is only important to those to whom those ideas it stands for mean something.
As Christians, we march under a greater flag, a divine banner. The Psalmist stated, “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth” (Psalm 60:4). We often sing the words, “There’s a royal banner given for display to the soldiers of the King. As an ensign fair we lift it up today, while as ransomed ones we sing. Marching on! Marching on! For Christ count everything but loss. To the King of kings, we’ll toil and sing, beneath the banner of the cross.” In the hymn “Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus” we sing “lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss.” We march under that holy and royal banner of the cross of Christ.
Isaiah described a time when God would raise up an ensign, or banner, out of Jesse which the Gentiles would seek (Is. 11:10). This prophecy spoke of Christ (Rom. 15:12). Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so was the Son of man lifted up (Num. 21:8,9; John 3:14).
Isaiah (62:10-12) described it this way:
Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highways; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.
Matthew quoted this passage and applied to the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem just before His arrest and crucifixion (Matt. 21:4,5). Over the New Jerusalem flies the Royal Banner of Christ!
But as in the world, so in the church, there are some who hold disdain for that holy banner. In the world there are those who would remove every vestige of memory of Christ from our culture and bully Christians into submission or out of our society. In the church, there are those who would change the charge under which we march as soldiers of the cross. They won’t preach Christ and Him crucified but prefer some worldly philosophy or some newly imagined sociological theory. They seek to entertain and get along with the world instead of teaching it the Truth or warning it of the coming Judgement. In this, they show just as much or even greater contempt for the Banner of Christ as some do for the flag of the United States by trampling upon or burning it.
Instead, let us march boldly under the Banner of the Cross, lifting it high. Let us preach in the name of the Lord the truth that saves. “Over land and sea, wherever man may dwell, make the glorious tidings known; Of the crimson banner now the story tell, while the Lord shall claim His own Marching on! Marching On! For Christ count everything but loss. For the King of kings we’ll toil and sing beneath the banner of the cross”
Eric L. Padgett