Several years ago I saw a bumper sticker on an automobile which said: "101% Bama I'll Never Change." The sticker expressed the extreme loyalty that the owner of the car had for his favorite football team, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. I take it that his loyalty would not be affected by how good or bad that his team might be in a given year or by how popular or unpopular that they might be at a particular time. As a loyal fan, he would probably try and go to every game that he could. Because of his loyalty, he would also speak up for his team and would not like it too much if someone tried to put them down. The person clearly planned to be a fan of this team for as long as he lived; his loyalty would not be shaken!

There is obviously nothing wrong with loyalty toward a favorite team. However, after I read the bumper sticker, I thought of another extreme, lifelong (and more important) loyalty that everyone ought to have. This loyalty is a loyalty to the Lord. Christians are to be loyal followers of God.

A dictionary definition of loyalty is, "faithful to those persons, ideals, etc. that one is under obligation to defend or support." It involves the idea of being true or constant. The word "loyal" is not actually found in the Bible, but certainly the concept is.

Consider some passages which emphasize our need to be loyal to God. Paul said in I Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." In Revelation 2:10, Christ told the church at Smyrna, " . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." This church is sometimes called the "suffering church." They were told that they would suffer more in the future, so their loyalty would be severely tested.

In the Bible, we can read of many who were loyal to God. Job would certainly be a good example of loyalty. He lost his health, his wealth, and his children but still remained faithful to God. He did not curse God (as his wife suggested) but instead blessed Him. In Job 2:10 he said, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." Job also said (13:15), "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him." During the time of the early church, Stephen was a loyalist. He was willing to preach God's Word even when his life was in danger. Acts seven points out that he was killed by hostile men who did not like his message. Another person who was loyal to God was Antipas. We know very little about him, but he is mentioned in Revelation 2:13 which says, ". . . my faithful martyr, who was slain among you where Satan dwelleth." It is clear that his loyalty cost him his life! There are others as well who are revealed in God's Word as being loyalist, and we can learn from them also.

There were others who are mentioned in the Bible who were not loyal. Judas, for example, betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver (Mt. 26:14-16, 47-48). Also, when Jesus was arrested, his disciples forsook Him (Mt. 26:56), and later Peter denied Jesus three times (Mt. 26:69-74). Later, the disciples returned to Jesus. At an earlier point in the ministry of Jesus, certain disciples proved disloyal. They did not like what Jesus taught and according to John 6:66, "For that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Further, after the establishment of the church, Paul said that Demas had forsaken him, "having loved this present world . . . ." (II Tim. 4:10)

Are you loyal to God? Can you be counted on? We need to be loyal when we face persecution and temptation (I Cor. 10:13). We need to be loyal when the cause of Christ is popular (Acts 2:47) and when it is not popular (Acts 8:1-4), when false doctrine confronts us (I Tim. 6:3-6), and even when opposed by family (Mt. 10:37). We should be loyal to Christ at all times.

Loyalty to things of the earth may not be wrong. We can be loyal to our football team, a car company, a particular brand of toothpaste or a grocery store. However, earthly loyalties are of little importance when compared to the spiritual. People need to be determined to be loyal to God. A much more important resolve than what the bumper sticker said is "101% LOYAL TO CHRIST --- I'LL NEVER CHANGE."

By Mike Johnson

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