On Loyalty

On Loyalty

by Mike Bonem, City Church Elder

Loyalty. Webster’s defines loyalty as “faithfulness to commitments.” It’s a simple word and idea. It’s a trait we all appreciate when we see it, especially if we’re the beneficiary of someone’s loyalty. And it can be exceedingly difficult to practice.

I am cautious about where I place my loyalties. Before I make a commitment to support a person or a cause, I assess whether they are trustworthy and deserving. They must pass an unspoken test to earn my loyalty. Even then, my unending loyalty is not guaranteed. If they later prove unworthy, I will feel justified in withdrawing my support.

That’s exactly what I did with the Houston Astros. I grew up in the Houston area, so they are my hometown baseball team, and I’ve been a fan for many years. When they won the World Series in 2017, I was glad to buy and wear a championship shirt. I was excited about their success and about some of the individual storylines of the players. But when a cheating scandal came to light a couple of years later, my shirt went to the back of the closet, never to be worn again. Even though I cheered for the Astros as they tried to win another World Series this year, it’s clear that my loyalty is conditional.

Left on my own, I attach words like “earned” or “deserved” or “mutual” to my loyalty, all terms that indicate my underlying self-interest. God’s vision of loyal love is quite different. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God’s faithful commitment to human beings – to me – does not depend on my performance. It is not withdrawn when I stumble and fail to demonstrate loyalty to him. If it were, God’s proverbial “I love Mike” shirt would be stuffed in the far back corner of a heavenly closet. Especially in this season of Advent, I’m invited to reflect on the wonder of God’s loyal love and how my loyalty can better reflect his.

Our four-week Advent blog series is designed to correspond with our Advent Devotional, “A New Vision,” which you can pick up at a future service or download the PDF by clicking here.

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