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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 21 2023

God’s colour guard

It is often pointed out that many of society's problems stem from a lack of values and standards, and most Christians would be quick to agree we need higher standards of behaviour.

God’s colour guard
'The Color Guard' (fr. La garde du drapeau) by Trego (WikiCommons)
by Gary Petty

Standard comes from an Anglo-Norman word referring to a flag or banner carried into battle to provide a place for soldiers to rally. The person who carried the standard—the flag or banner—was called the standard-bearer. It was possibly the most honored, and dangerous, position for a soldier during war. In battle, if the colours were captured, the regiment had no point of reference, and panic and disintegration could ensue.

Christ sets the standards of conduct and morality, which is the colour guard of His Kingdom, serving as a rallying point for us. Isaiah was inspired to write that Christ, when He comes to establish God's Kingdom on earth, will be the standard—the ensign, banner or sign—for nations to rally around. He encouraged those who rally around that standard now to "wait"—to expectantly look—for God (Isaiah 49:22-23).

Standards of sexual conduct

In our increasingly permissive societies it isn't easy to be a standard-bearer. You can be considered a religious fanatic for believing in virginity (male and female) until marriage, or that the only sanctioned marriage union in the Bible is between a man and a woman. God gives both men and women instructions concerning their sexuality.

Christian women should maintain godly standards of modesty, as the Apostles Paul and Peter admonished (1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4). These scriptures don't imply a woman shouldn't care about her appearance or that jewelry or cosmetics are sin. The primary concern should be developing godly character and a right relationship with God, which forms the basis of decisions concerning how to dress.

The same principles apply to Christian men. They are to be standard-bearers, following Christ's example in their treatment of their wives and children; "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it…" (Ephesians 5:25), and guard their minds against wrong sexual thoughts: "...whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

Standards of honesty and integrity

We live in a world in which people compromise their personal standards of honesty and integrity by cheating on their taxes, making crooked business deals and calling in sick, when they aren’t, to get a day off work, but at the same time demand higher standards. Only the Creator knows the way to happy, abundant lives and gives us the standards to attain them. "For everyone practicing evil hates the light…lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they may have been done in God" (John 3:20-21).

Family religious standards

Some parents think they shouldn’t teach standards of religious belief to their children until they are old enough to make their own decisions, but God wants us to instruct our children and "talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Parents should be involved in the lives of their children on a daily basis, establishing standards of dress, music and television viewing, and ensuring they keep within God's boundaries of morality. Attending weekly church services should be a family activity, providing fellowship with believers and reinforcing family values. They should teach their children how to pray and take their worries to God, faithfully believing He will take care of them.

The example of Lot

The story of Lot and his family, recorded in Genesis 19, is an example of a standard-bearer who allowed his judgment to be clouded by society. In the face of overwhelming injustice and sin, our judgment, like Lot's, can also become clouded. We can begin to convince ourselves cheating on the time card really isn't all that dishonest, or indulging in sex before marriage is okay if you really love each other.

Christians are to be God's colour guard, so that the many who are lost and searching will find a rallying point and come to the knowledge of God. "We will rejoice in your salvation," wrote King David many years ago, "and in the name of our God we will set up our banners!" (Psalm 20:5).