Was discussing with Rob yesterday about the damage that gossip can do to relationships within a group of people, especially a church. While we were talking I started thinking about some things that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit challenging me with lately regarding loyalty. It’s not a term you hear much these days except when talking about sports. But I think it’s time for me and maybe some other people to think about what it really means to call someone a friend.
I want to be a loyal person. When there’s someone I consider a friend, I want to be the kind of person that will stand up for them when they’re not around. I want friends that would do that for me. The problem is that mustering up loyalty is tough when you’re not used to being confrontational. It’s hard to challenge someone when they’re gossiping to you about another friend, or slandering someone you care about. Especially if the person who’s doing it is another person you care about.
The thing is that Jesus told us that instead of loving each other as we love ourselves, that we’re to love others as he loves us. But what if we don’t know what his love is like? What if we don’t experience his loyalty to us? We won’t know what real loyalty is all about. Trying to be loyal just based on principle is useless when you don’t like confrontation. But when you really come face to face with the unrestrained, unconditional love and loyalty that God has shown us in spite of how awful we act in his presence sometimes, it changes you. And it changes how you feel about your friends, because His love and his loyalty become your love and loyalty.
That’s why some of the most "spiritual" people can be the most two-faced, double-talking people you’ve ever met. They’ve been working their whole lives trying to earn God’s approval, never realizing that they already have it. They’re frustrated at themselves because they can’t meet the standard they’ve set for themselves. They cheat their own soul out of it’s relationship with God, so they cheat everyone else from the loyalty that they think they have with them.
The only way to know how to be a real friend is to experience the perfect love that we can’t earn. The love that’s offered to us unconditionally, without strings attached to our performance. That’s the kind of loyalty I want to have to the people I love.