I want to discuss very candidly today the place, the plan, the purpose, and the power of the church.
Jesus established and loved the church. He commanded his people to be loyal to it and to always give it priority affection and faithful support.
Loyalty has a martial ring to it. We think of our country and the nation’s flag. Loyalty stirs within us something high and holy. We like to think of ourselves as loyal, stalwart, and true.
In Nashville is a statue of one of the Confederacy’s heroes, Sam Davis, who uttered some immortal words: “I would die a thousand deaths, before I would betray a friend.”
The Place of Loyalty
Loyalty is the willing, practical devotion of self and substance to a person or a cause that is believed to be supremely worthwhile. It carries with it faithfulness, trust and confidence.
I would suggest that church loyalty runs much deeper: it calls for devoted allegiance to a Person and a cause. It involves decision, devotion, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and sacrifice.
Josiah Royce called loyalty “the chief of all virtues, the center of all beauty, the fulfillment of the moral law, and the very heart of religion.”
An individual without loyalty is like a ship without a compass. There may be much activity and much “going about” but it will often have little purpose and be unprofitable. Loyalty gives purpose, direction and drive to life.
In any list of Christian virtues, loyalty ranks high…we recognize it in scripture as faithfulness:
(Mat 23:23) “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
(Rom 3:3) “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?”
(Gal 5:22) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
(3 John 1:3) “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.”
(Rev 13:10) “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will bekilled. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”
In our daily lives, there are numerous ‘loyalties’ clamoring for devotion and interest. We must stand firm in our efforts to be loyal to God, to the faith, to the church, to friends and family, and to self!
“Lord,” I said, “I want to be your man, not my own. So to you I give my money, my car—even my home.”
Then, smug and content, I relaxed with a smile…and whispered to God, “I’ll bet it’s been a while since anyone has given so much, so freely?” His answer surprised me. He replied, “Not really. “Not a day has gone by since the beginning of time, that someone hasn’t offered meager nickels and dimes, golden altars and crosses, contributions and penance, stone monuments and steeples; but why not repentance?
“The money, the statues, the cathedrals you’ve built, do you really think I need your offerings of guilt? What good is money that’s meant only to salve the hurting conscience that so many of you have. “Your lips know no prayers. Your eyes, no compassion. But you will go to church (when churchgoing is in fashion).
“Just give me a tear—a heart ready to mold. And I’ll give you a mission, a message so bold—that a fire will be stirred where there was only death. And your heart will be flamed by my life and my breath.” I stuck my hands in my pockets and kicked at the dirt. It’s tough to be corrected…I guess my feelings were hurt. But it was worth the struggle to realize the though: that the cross isn’t for sale and Christ’s blood can’t be bought.”