Mismatched Allegiance
By Anthony Casperson

Factions with varying viewpoints are common in many video games. They provide perspectives that build out the world of the game. And often provide any number of quests where the player can earn vast amounts of experience points.

If you’re like me—and prefer to squeeze out every last possible XP—you seek out such factions to perform whatever quests they have, even if their viewpoint is quite questionable. “I don’t care about your founder’s vision, or whatever. I’m just here to gain levels. Thank you very much.” Our allegiance is to a different motivation.

The problem arises when you come across two or more factions that have opposing views, or want to have control over the same resource. Because then, you have to choose. Sure, most of the time, you can go a decent distance down each faction’s questline before having to choose. But eventually, you can’t continue down both. For instance, once you kill the archmage over the Wizard’s Tower at the behest of the head of the Assassin’s Guild, it’s not likely anyone’s gonna want to train you in magic anymore.

Though there are many ways to decide which option to take, the tendency is for us to choose the side that benefits us the most. Or at least seems to, based off of our limited understanding.

I make this distinction because in real life—where we can’t just reload a previous save or look up a guide to find out the actual end results—we might miss out on the actual benefit of one side because it comes into reality further along on the time scale. Sometimes our perspective sees an immediate (but lesser) benefit on one side, which then causes us to forfeit a greater (but longer-term) one from the other.

While reading through 2 Corinthians for my morning devotional—and mentally still thinking about things in 1 Corinthians, because of my current sermon series through that book—this thought concerning factions and allegiance came to mind.

See, many of the prominent members of the congregation in Corinth also attempted to be distinguished among the general populace as well. And one such method involved gaining patronage from a wealthy member of society. The one person would be known as a close acquaintance of the patron. And that bearing of the patron’s name would come with great benefit.

But it would also come with great cost.

If you have most of your bills paid by someone else, there’s a tendency for that patron to make demands of you. A sense of earning one’s keep. But what happens when what they ask us to do is something that contradicts our other allegiances? Will we give in just so that the life of ease continues? Or will we stick to our convictions and give up the good life that has benefited us so far?

And perhaps a better question to ask is: “Why would we want to be put in this situation to begin with?”

Would it not be better for us to have never joined ourselves with an individual or group that demands such a test which strains our convictions? Is it worth the limited “benefits” only to end up with the loss of something greater?

This is part of the reason why Paul commands the people in Corinth who claim to follow Jesus to not unequally yoke with unbelievers in 2 Cor. 6:14-15. Their patron-seeking ways left them in a place where they had to participate in the un-Christ-like frivolities of their unbelieving patron. Perhaps even publicly show support for things that went against the truth of God.

We can see such a thing happening in the fact that in 1 Corinthians Paul had to tell certain individuals in the church that their freedom to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols (of which they partook in large part due to their desire for upward social mobility) was destroying the faith of their brothers and sisters in Jesus.

This isn’t to say that every interaction with those outside of the followers of Jesus is wrong. It’s only to show the point that placing our security in those who oppose the things of God will always end up with a choice of which allegiance to follow. And which cost will have to be paid for it.

It’s better to not stand in allegiance with those whose priorities mismatch ours. Because we will always be pulled in a different direction.