Mittwoch, 19. September 2018

The importance of loyalty

Every man has a multitude of loyalties. In an ideal scenario these are all complimentary. However, this is rarely the case. As men, we should learn to prioritize, learning to build a hierarchy of loyalties. Take a minute or two and draw a hierarchy pyramid and sort in order of importance all the loyalties in your life. Done? What is on top of your hierarchy?

The scriptures teach us, that it must be God. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (Deuteronomy 6:5) This doesn't mean that you should neglect your other allegiances like family, church, country and employee.

In the movie Quo Vadis, Vincius follows his chrisitan lover into a secret speech of Peter. The roman begins to understand the teaching of Christ. But he also noticed something: "He felt that, if he wished to follow that teaching, he would have to place on a burning pile all his thoughts, habits and character, his whole nature up to that moment, burn them to ashes and then fill himself with a life altogether different and an entirely new soul." Vincius, even if newly converted, is right. To truly be a Chrisitan means to burn your past. This is what Jesus meant in Luke 9:57-62: 

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

"If anyone would come after me," Jesus says, "he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) Even if most of us live in a country where they can express freely their beliefs, where you don't have to fear for your life because of your faith, you are still required to lay down your way of life. Many times during the day you will be required to make a decision between the way of the world and the way of heaven. Pledge your highest allegiance to God and stay faithful and the smallest decision will take care of herself That's how many prophets got rid of their problems. "At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him.  But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)" (Genesis 4:24-26) At first this seems to make very little sense. But this is often the case when you read the bible. It was not God who tried to kill Moses. It was his internal Turmoil created by the desire to please God and his wife at the same time. God wanted that Moses circumcises his son, but Zipporah forbid it. It was a dilemma. Jesus may have had a similar experience in Gethsemane. "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me." (Matthew 26:36-46) The choice nearly pushed him to his death. He even sweat big drops of sweat. When he finally was able to pray "(...) not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22.42) he received strength to fulfill his destiny. Moses was cured in another way, when Zipporah finally gave in. She deliberated Moses from his deadly dilemma by circumcising her son herself and give the foreskin to Moses as a sign of submission. "No one can ever serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24) Internal piece comes from obedience to God and our absolute loyalty to him.
Now I want to look at the whole Moses passage from a different point of view: God tried to purposely kill Moses. God tried to kill Moses’ old self, his carnal nature. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Romans 6:6) Our old self is the source of all sin. Yet we fear his change and the transformation that would take place. There is no need for fear. Obedience to Christ means the death of own self-destructiveness. The old man is a killer, he is selfish, blindly ambitious, critical and cruel. Our best actions are destroyed by our own pride, gluttony and greed. Moses was not different. He was a murderer and a short tempered man and even his tries to please God where only half minded. Only after God had liberated him from his old self, he became one of the greatest prophets that ever lived.

Being torn between two loyalties is very hard. Jesus said: 

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but war... a man's ennemies will be the ennemes of his own household. From now on they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother -in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." 

Jesus didn't come really to bring this kind of chaos. His words describe the struggle that a family must face, where not everyone follows Christ. By becoming the best Christian man, you can possibly be, you can't really resolve the problem of a unfaithful wife. We still must follow Christ and hope to receive salvation not only for ourselves, but also for our families.

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