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Our Life Together Series: The Meaning of Loyalty (1 Corinthians 12:26) 

26 Apr

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Most of the communities to which we belong are voluntary organizations. Because we share a common interest with others, we join them in forming a community based on that common interest. If we have children in school, we may join with others in forming a chapter of the P.T.A. If we are in business, we may join with others who share this particular interest. Our association with the group lasts as long as we share a common interest with it. When our situation changes, causing us no longer to share common goals with the group, our loyalty to it is likely to disappear. We enter voluntarily and leave voluntarily, because our loyalty and support depend on our shared common interests with the group.

We need only to take a cursory look at some texts of the New Testament to see that the church is quite unlike the voluntary association. When the New Testament speaks of the community, it has a rich and suggestive word in Greek for developing this idea. It is the word koinonia, which we translate as “fellowship” or “participation” or “partnership.” The church is not a voluntary association of like-minded people alone! It is a community of people who have first been called into fellowship with Jesus Christ. We belong to each other because we first belong to Jesus Christ.

Fellowship did not originate at our own initiative: We were called into fellowship: (1 Corinthians 1:9)  “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” Our fellowship with him is not the result of our own goodness. It is his gracious summons that has made us his partners.

See how these verses express this idea: The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the body and blood of Christ: (1 Corinthians 10:16)  “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?”

A disciple shares in his sufferings: (2 Corinthians 1:5-7)  “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. {6} If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. {7} And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

Paul described himself this way: (Philippians 3:10)  “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” We have been called as his people into a life of sharing his way, the way of the cross. To be in fellowship with Christ is to adopt his kind of life.

We are brought together as one body: (1 Corinthians 12:12)  “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

Paul’s words should help us realize that there is no relationship to Jesus without our being members of his body, the church! And fellowship is real only when every one of us, like parts of a body, contributes to the ongoing ministry. Even those members who seem not very gifted are vital to the fellowship, for the body cannot exist without the cooperation of its tiniest part.

Fellowship is never a reality unless the work is shared by all members. There is no justification for any church and its ministries to be carried out by staff members only. Christians within the body should not become spectators to the work of the church. Nor is their work to become simply that of financial benefactors.

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.

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.

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:                            (over)

 (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 be killed. 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!

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Our Life Together

 

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