Where Loyalties Lie
Loyalty is an important and powerful virtue. It can move one to stand strong in the face of adversity and persevere in the face of insurmountable problems. As a boy, I watched my Dad remain loyal when most others wavered. I saw him stand firm when others of influence stood against his Pastor. Even as a young Christian, he took the heat and played the man. He was loyal to the end.
As I grew older and was faced with relationships and responsibilities, the quality of loyalty became personally important. I learned to be loyal and faithful to friends, family, and leaders and to stand with them even when it was costly. I attempted to exemplify and communicate the importance of this character trait to my sons and watched them embrace it as an essential element of their lives. I can say that the Lord has taught my sons to be loyal and faithful men.
But loyalty is not primarily to a person or persons. Personality and leadership can move us to give our loyalties but should not cause us to be unreserved in their application. Loyalty is not a benign or blind matter, or at least it should not be. Of course it will be if attached to mere personality. The power of personality or human attachment can cause us to lose sight of that which alone is worthy of our loyalty.
The Founding Fathers of the United States understood this all too well and were forced to test the metal of their loyalties. They were not quick to loosen the bonds of loyalty to England and her King. Their sense of loyalty was not easily swayed. But the test of their loyalties caused them to look beyond humans personalities, philosophies, and institutions. Deeply held beliefs felt the pressure of adverse and even compromising circumstances, leaving noble men and women to ask themselves about both the source and the ultimate focus of their loyalties. So significant was this time of self-examination and challenge that it moved them to say: “…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
As we have followed our Lord, our family has had its loyalties tested as well. We have found that this strong sense of commitment to a person or institution can go a long way but only so far. We have watched those we trust abuse our loyalty. I dare say that most of us have. Torn between long and tenaciously held loyalties and competing issues, we struggle to decide where our loyalties lie. Who or what holds the right to our loyalties? Christianity and the church have struggled with this for some time. Church history is strewn with the casualties of wars over misguided loyalties. And the developments of the past generation teach us that we tend to lose the lessons of the past. The truth is that we still hold out hope that loyalty to earthly alliances will provide us with the power and influence we need to win the war for values, to change the cultural landscape for the better.
It is at this point that our loyalty lies to us. It is at this point that we tend to forget that no loyalty or commitment can be allowed to challenge or obscure our loyalty to the Truth of God and the God of Truth. I am not advocating Christian isolationism. Our involvement is more than noble. It is necessary. But our involvement is not based on human possibilities or humans themselves, however noble they may appear. Our involvement is based on our sure knowledge that our Lord’s Truth will prevail and His will shall be accomplished. Our disappointment at electoral losses may reveal more than a commitment to the right. It may reveal a misplaced trust and a misguided loyalty. After all, a transformed society is not ultimately the result of temporal political victories, but of a Gospel that is the “power of God for salvation”. Let us not forget that “God is the ruler. He puts down one and sets up another”(Ps.75:7). That is a power to which no political party may rightfully lay claim.
In the love of Christ,