That’s my family! I love my family (but who are those two Latino guys?)! What’s also an extreme blessing is that they are also a part of my spiritual family, for which I really thank God for!
The pictures above were taken last week at Joni and Friends FAMILY Retreat, where over 40 of us from MBCLA were richly blessed and captivated by the power and beauty of loyalty. There’s really nothing like it. We were overwhelmed by the power of parents’ extreme loyalty to their severely disabled children, as well as the mutual loyalty of both typical siblings and siblings with disabilities alike.
We also ached for families shattered by disloyalty – where parents (and even siblings) did not remain faithful and committed to their own families affected by disability during the valleys (in some cases) and opportunities (in other cases) of life. Instead, they bailed on their families to either just escape from their situation (usually the father) or to escape and fulfill their dreams. Cowardice or selfishness. In both cases, the family is left to fend for themselves.
One essential core life value was re-affirmed to me: You never leave your family.
One man I met at Family Retreat cried on my shoulder under this conviction, after having divorced his wife of 23 years, leaving her with their disabled daughter. My prayer for him was that they will reunite and become a family again.
A Powerful Apologetic
Friends, one of the most potentially powerful apologetic tools we have is the power of God in an authentically committed Christian family. That came through loud and clear at retreat. But what is also essential and powerful is the display of God’s power in a spiritual family (sometimes it includes your biological family and sometimes it doesn’t); for when we are asking people to come to Christ, we are also inviting them to become part of a spiritual family. But if that family isn’t extraordinarily faithful and loyal to God and each other (Luke 10:27), displaying undeniable evidence of the value of life lived under the Spirit’s reign and value system, who is really going to buy into the claims Christians make?
The fact is, one of the biggest hindrances to people coming to Christ is … Christians; and it’s not really the straight up hypocritical “Christians” that even non-Christians know aren’t really Christians. It’s the modern-day Pharisee-like Christians; the ones who really live pretty much under the same value system as everyone else does, just a little nicer, cleaner, and more religious. But that’s not true loyalty to the heart and soul of Christ, whose value system is VERY different.
If the world is going to believe in the power of Christ to transform lives, they had better see transformed lives! That is, they had better see a loyalty that so values, so cherishes, so treasures Christ and His Kingdom, to the point of unexplainable joyful self-denial (“If any man wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself …” Matt. 16:24).
A Christianity without loyalty to the point of self-denial is not a Christianity worth inquiring about. It is impotent.
Recently, I came across the following lessons on loyalty from Pastor Aroboto in Ireland that I thought would be helpful reminders for us that I mildly added to as we continue our Summer TD series this Friday, “Potent Once More”. If we don’t live this out, we are letting the world know that His Kingdom isn’t really all that great, not really worth sacrificing for. That is the very opposite message that Jesus’ and the early church’s lives sent the world when it “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6):
SIX LESSONS ON LOYALTY
1. LOYALTY DOES NOT WAVER. Loyalty involves the steady involvement and commitment to our relationships and responsibilities to God and His kingdom. It also suggests the presence of likely turbulent factors that will constantly attempt to tip the scales of our allegiance … Some of these forces might even be of legitimate nature, making them potentially the most dangerous.
2. LOYALTY IS WHAT YOU DO, NOT WHAT YOU SAY. Talk, they say, is cheap … Loyalty must be action backed. It can and does not thrive on mere verbal assurances; it must reveal itself in all that we do.
3. LOYALTY IS A WILLING DECISION. Forced compliance is fake loyalty. It is not uncommon to observe this brand of loyalty in some circles, both in secular and faith-based organizations. However loyalty must not be faked, else it will snowball into technical sabotage. This is a crime that attracts consequences and as such must be avoided at all costs. You must make up your mind to align yourself with God’s will as far as loyalty is concerned. Remember, the bible clearly states that “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Gal 6:7. It suffices to say then that when we allow ourselves to get embroiled in disloyalty we run the risk of reaping the same.
4. LOYALTY IS DEMANDING. Loyalty will usually put demands on you. When we don’t become comfortable with this truth, disloyalty becomes inevitable. You will be called upon to do the unthinkable sometimes, and you must be careful not to be misguided by what may seem as demeaning tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes promotion comes in the most unfashionable assignments.
5. LOYALTY WILL INVOLVE SACRIFICE. This is the real deal. Your allegiance to God, the ministry, your family, and your friends will call for seasons of personal sacrifice. What is sacrifice? It is the act of giving something precious and of high value at one’s expense. The kind of loyalty that does not require you to make regular sacrifices does not really exist. If it does, it is only in the imagination. The point here is that you must be willing to accompany your allegiance to the object of your loyalty with regular giving of time, money and resources. It may not be convenient but it is usually necessary.
6. LOYALTY TO GOD WILL BE REWARDED. The fruit of loyalty in all its shades often results in surprising rewards. As Coach Wooden taught, faith is trusting that if you do what you ought, things will turn out the way they ought. Let this motivate and encourage you.
For further Study Psalm 84:10-11, Matthew 26:33-35, 26:69-75, 2 Chronicles 11:13-16, Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 78:8
Let’s get to work, TD!