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Loyal To The End

Loyal To The End

To Christ be loyal and be true . . . I remember singing that song often when I was a child, but I had to look to make sure it is even in our current song book. Perhaps the style isn't that appealing anymore. Perhaps I just haven't been present when the song was sung--I don't remember hearing it in quite some time. Loyalty is no longer a common part of our vocabulary and behavior. Loyalty to one's spouse; loyalty to friends; loyalty to one's business associates; loyalty to one's church; loyalty to Christ--all such beliefs have suffered in the culture of self. "Doing it my way" and "looking out for number one" mean that other people and dependencies have a price on their heads, a point at which relationship may have to be severed for the sake of self-interest.
Church growth experts repeatedly remind us that there is no "denominational loyalty" anymore. For non-denominationalists like us that ought to be a sign of growth and expectancy. Instead, it is the realization that people aren't loyal to the Church of Christ anymore, either. We have always believed that people should be loyal to truth first. But in an age of relativized truth, people seem most loyal to personal feelings and the search for self-fulfillment. If that search takes them other places, if it must dismiss employees or associates or spouses or congregations--self-preservation comes first; self will be satisfied, or at least think so momentarily.
Jesus understood the need to keep loyalty in perspective when he talked about discipleship. If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23). If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26). The remarkable difference between his perspective and that of our culture is that we dismiss others for the sake of self; he demands that we dismiss self for the sake of him. To Christ be loyal and be true--not to self be loyal and be true. Loyalty to him then empowers loyalty to others. Rather than sacrificing all else to preserve self, we sacrifice self to preserve our loyalty to him, and through him, our loyalty to others. That's what Jesus did at the cross; that's what we do when we take up our cross daily and follow him.
John O. York

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