Another word associated with loyalty is faithfulness, but that doesn’t fully show the meaning. So many things hinge on the word or result of loyalty. Trust hinges heavily on loyalty and that is best seen in the lack of loyalty by Peter when Jesus was arrested and he was asked and accused of being a follower of Jesus and he denied Christ. He was not loyal to the Lord and it crushed him….But what about Jesus? Read the account in John 15-27 and see if Peter didn’t deny Christ at the time when Jesus needed him to stand with Him. Peter’s denial didn’t stop the Son of God from going ahead with what He had to do to save us from our sins, but the denial was still there. Their relationship changed then and loyalty was the hinge pin that failed and affected their future, if….Jesus had not restored it in John 21:15-17. We make a lot out of the fact that Peter denied Christ three times and then Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” Jesus was showing a restorative love and in restoring that love restored the loyalty He needed from Peter. At the end of the restoration he says three words,”Tend my sheep.” Jesus needed to see Peter’s loyalty because God had great plans for Peter and Peter needed to acknowledge Christ in all situations, not just in the easy ones. Today’s blog is a precursor to important steps Peter would take after going to Cornelius’s house and then taking the gospel to the Gentiles. All of this is tied together and everything hinges on the word loyalty.
If you think about it, loyalty is the hinge pin for many relationships. In marriage, loyalty is the hinge pin to making it successful and lasting. In sports, loyalty is what keeps fans in the stands and cheering for their team. In ministry, loyalty is the hinge pin to keeping people following the direction of their pastor as he serves God. In a job, loyalty is what keeps employees from stealing from their company and working extra hours to make sure the work is completed. In government, loyalty is what rallies people behind our president, senator, or governor and causes them to step up and go the extra mile to serve. Loyalty for all things comes back to our loyalty to Christ. Much the same as the questioning of Peter’s loyalty is the questioning of our loyalty to Christ as well.
In government, we saw an example of loyalty when Mike Pence stood by Donald Trump after an embarrassing video surfaced that showed him compromised in his witness. I heard comments from people saying Mike Pence should now be the presidential candidate and I said it and thought it. Why did I think that? I saw him show loyalty and it inspired me and made me trust him more. Loyalty is the hinge pin for trust and without loyalty trust is compromised in every form. In order for people to learn to trust, truly trust, they must experience loyalty.
In church ministry, loyalty to a pastor is a must. When loyalty is not evident, then the church ministry is compromised. I was in a church as a new staff member and the pastor came in to my office and told me about the former staff who had held my position of leadership. The pastor explained that he made a decision and that the staff member disagreed with him, but not to his face. So when he got in front of the group he was responsible for he presented the pastor’s direction by saying, “Now I don’t agree with this direction, but this is where our pastor wants to go.” The pastor realized through that staff member’s words that he wasn’t loyal and that he didn’t trust the pastor. The pastor wrote him off and the relationship with that staff member ended not long after that occurrence. I know this may sound crazy, but when you are loyal to a person you say “I trust you. So if you go down, we are going down together.” if You can’t show that kind of loyalty then you need to quit that position because you are of no good to that pastor. That is loyalty and it is the hinge pin to trust. Churches are dying today because of a lack of loyalty and trust, in their “called” mnisterial staff. More loyalty means more trust and more trust means more blessings from God, but it all hinges on loyalty. Sometimes “blind loyalty.” We have to learn to believe!!!
In marriage, loyalty is the hinge pin to ongoing love and faithfulness. Scripture says it better than I could in Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined (hinge Pin) to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” At the core of a marriage relationship there has to be loyalty. I bristle when I hear a wife putting down a husband and a husband putting down his wife, but I bristle even more when I see a spouse not support their other half. Many marriages today just “exist” and that is because the hinge pin of loyalty is not holding them together like they need to. There cannot be a more intimate relationship than the joining of two people to make one. The marriage relationship exists on the hinge pin of loyalty. The end result of loyalty in marriage is real trust. The crushing blow to trust in a marriage relationship is lack of loyalty. If a man is more loyal to his parents or siblings that to his wife, the trust his spouse has will be compromised. If a woman doesn’t cut the apron strings with her family the man will never believe in her loyalty and thus not have the trust he needs to have to make the marriage all it should be. Even more than ministry, a marriage relationship loyalty should have the characteristic statement, “I’m with them and no on else.” How can a wife be loyal if she is off doing her own thing without regard for the marriage. How can a husband be loyal if he is just thinking of making the next big score in his business. Loyalty has to be at a premium for a marriage to be all Christ intended for it to be. So loyalty is the hinge pin for trust in a marriage. It is a bad move when someone goes against your spouse and you join with them in putting your spouse down. Trust is gone after that and that trust has to be restored just like the trust had to be restored by Jesus for Peter carrying on the message of the gospel. We never mention that Peter probably found out something about himself when he denied Christ. He probably discovered “I say I am loyal to Christ, but am I really?” Maybe that is the question that we need to be asking ourselves “I say I am loyal to Christ, but am I really?” Can Jesus trust your loyalty? It is the hinge pin that joins everything together in all relationships, so we better get this one right. I remember just before going out to the marriage ceremony to marry my wife. I was standing in the back room off the stage area and a huge feeling of responsibility came over me and really shook me at my core. The question came to mind before going out to make one of the biggest commitments in my life. “David, do you really believe Andra is the one God wants you to spend the rest of your life with?” Even though the pressure was on I am glad I was able to say to the Lord and to myself, “She is the one!” My loyalty to her is the hinge pin to her trust in me and I keep that loyalty in all things if at all possible. Many times I have disagreed with her in a situation, but I didn’t deny my loyalty for her by doubting her or undercutting her with friends or my family or anyone. She can trust my loyalty. It is my prayer that the loyalty that is the hinge pin of my relationship with Christ is always true and real. I hope Jesus can always trust me to stand with Him in every situation. That thought really brings this scripture into focus for me. Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Here is the kicker to the hinge pin of loyalty. If you find yourself not being loyal to anyone, then you probably don’t have a true loyalty to Christ and it is time to be restored, so you can live that life of loyalty. Tomorrow I will continue sharing the scripture that speaks to the loyalty of Peter coming to life for the Gentiles in the world. The restorative work of Christ was made complete in the ministry of Peter after Jesus left this world. The hinge pin held strong and Peter was a better man for his loyalty being reestablished. Remember, without the hinge pin all you have is two hinges that are not joined together.
This story tells of true loyalty and the strong representation it is of full trust and honor.
One of the all-time greats in baseball was Babe Ruth. His bat had the power of a cannon, and his record of 714 home runs remained unbroken until Hank Aaron came along. The Babe was the idol of sports fans, but in time age took its toll, and his popularity began to wane. Finally the Yankees traded him to the Braves. In one of his last games in Cincinnati, Babe Ruth began to falter. He struck out and made several misplays that allowed the Reds to score five runs in one inning. As the Babe walked toward the dugout, chin down and dejected, there rose from the stands an enormous storm of boos and catcalls. Some fans actually shook their fists. Then a wonderful thing happened. A little boy jumped over the railing, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he ran out to the great athlete. Unashamedly, he flung his arms around the Babe’s legs and held on tightly. Babe Ruth scooped him up, hugged him, and set him down again. Patting him gently on the head, he took his hand and the two of them walked off the field together.
I think about a weakened impression people have of Jesus in our world today and I hope I continue to acknowledge that He is the “only” hope for mankind. America may be denying Christ is our only hope, but I will not agree with that stand. Christ is the only way to salvation. Not a political candidate, not money, not position, not anything else, but Jesus. Where is your loyalty?
The Pilgrimage continues…