This is the sixth post of a seven part series on manhood called Manspirations. The series aims the spotlight of Scripture on the life of a man to determine how a man should live once redeemed by the blood of Christ.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)
If I were to be 99% loyal to my wife, I would be disloyal. A cheater. In a covenant like marriage, it requires 100% loyalty and full-hearted devotion. A soldier who shoots at the enemy most of the time and pops off a round or two at his boys is a traitor. Loyalty demands all of us, every shred of our manhood and every shred of our life. It is a pass/fail test.
Sadly, we all fail.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that a man who looks at another woman with lust has cheated. A damning word said to or about a brother is as good as murder. We have all said murderous things about those we love, either to their face or behind their back. If you deny it, you can add lying to your rap sheet.
Merriam-Webster defines loyalty as “unswerving in allegiance.” I think that’s a strong definition. I like it. Using this definition, let’s also make some room for the x factor that we so badly need to be men who are loyal, men who are unswerving in allegiance to God, our families, our church, and our community.
Blood Donation Needed
Our sins are nasty. They cause wrecks and disasters. And all sins are rooted in disloyalty: self over God. In fact, if you boil it down, the world-smashing sin – the sin to start all sins - of Adam and Eve came down to a failure of loyalty. God who made them and loved them and walked with them said, “Hey guys – don’t eat of that tree. It’ll kill you.” He had His reasons, reasons of cosmic proportions. But Adam and Eve were taken aside by slithering Satan, who questioned God’s goodness. They were lured and went willingly into disloyalty.
Adam and Eve were given an easy loyalty. God made it easy on them. Just trust and obey and hang out in paradise with your best friend and lover. God was there with them in The Garden, the perfect place. He was perfectly good to them in every way. He wasn’t asking much and He gave them everything. But Adam and Eve had an epic failure of loyalty.
As a result, they had a debt to pay. An earth-sized one. This debt could never be paid by I’ll do better next times. We too have this sin issue and thus this outstanding debt due to our disloyalty. We need a savior, someone loving enough and with enough means to pay that debt. Jesus came for that. Debt paid, breach in loyalty washed away in a torrent of righteous blood. Freedom restored.
Getting New Blood
In the epic book All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy, John Grady Cole and his buddy Rawlins get thrown in a Mexican jail. It’s a long story and one worth reading. After they get out of jail, a brutal experience with stabbings and fights and broken bodies, they sit in a hotel room smoking cigarettes rehashing the ordeal. Rawlins says he got some Mexican blood put in him at the hospital. He asks John Grady Cole if that makes him part Mexican now. Cole teases Rawlins and tells him he’s a half breed now.
Think of your old heart. The heart of stone you had beating in your chest before Jesus saved you. It pushed out dark blood in your body. A heart of stone, a wicked heart, does not do the body and soul good. But a new heart, a reborn heart, a heart of flesh – that heart thumps life into our broken bones. Our new hearts infuse life and God into our souls and yes, even into our physical bodies.
Our new heart is oriented towards Jesus like a plant grows towards the sun. And while we will still fail and have our moments of betrayal, we now have the ability – and increasingly so as we are sanctified – to be loyal to God and our fellow man. We have the ability as men to give our word and keep it. Through changed affections by the power of the Holy Spirit, God grants us the ability to be loyal. It’s not that a nonbeliever cannot be loyal – he can – but that loyalty in pure, lasting form must be transcendent. If rooted in a momentary secular existence, the motivation for loyalty is as big as the prize for being loyal. This means when loyalty costs something, the nonbeliever has rational reason to bail unless the benefits outweigh the cost during his or her life on earth.
A loyal man does not do a cost/benefit analysis, though. He is loyal to the end without regard for his benefit, if any. If that sounds irrational, it is – absent a loving God who rights wrongs and repays each one according to his deeds. In this life or the next, God will set things right. We can just obey and trust and do our best to show unswerving allegiance to that which matters and let God repay as he sees fit.
But we have to count the cost of loyalty. It isn’t free.
Jesus was loyal unto death. A heinous death. He remained perfectly loyal to the Father and to those of us whom He would redeem through His death and resurrection. His loyalty was tested to the extreme and He was found loyal. To the point of death by torture as He was rejected by His Dad.
A blood-earnest loyalty will cost us everything. To claim unswerving allegiance to your favorite sports team is cute, but unswerving allegiance to God requires you to deposit your life at the altar. You aren’t making a commitment, you are dying. Picture the baptismal waters. The Christ-follower is dunked beneath the surface, signifying a death and rebirth. It’s not an oath we give, like a swearing in. It is so much more than that. There is no turning back once the Lion of Heaven has us.
And the great news is that God remains loyal to us. If we taste the agony of our failure to be loyal, He is there. If we are stung by someone else’s disloyalty, He is there. The cross is proof: He remains unswerving in allegiance.