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Home Op-Ed Christ, our most loyal friend, always stands beside us

Christ, our most loyal friend, always stands beside us

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The virtue of loyalty does not require equality
by Julie VanSpall


Photo Caption: "As loyal as I try to be toward family and friends, I must shamefully admit, when I need someone, I tend to seek companionship in those I can see and touch, rather than turning to Jesus," writes Julie VanSpall. She writes that while Jesus is teh best friend she will ever have, she hurts him each time she fails to turn to him." (designpics.com)


I’ve been pondering the meaning and complexity of loyalty lately. Loyalty allows people to know that they can count on someone else. Regardless of whether individuals communicate regularly or haven’t been in touch for long periods of time, those in loyal relationships know that they can depend on the other to be there for them in times of need, or to cheer the loudest in times of celebration. When these interactions are reciprocal – even if occasional – being loyal is easy.

By contrast, when one person in a relationship pulls away, the other can be left wondering what they’ve done wrong, why they aren’t trusted to help, or even experience feelings of abandonment during their own challenges. One-sidedness in any relationship tends to make being loyal hard, and sometimes painful.

If I were asked to list my best qualities, I’d consider loyalty among the top three. Once someone is in my heart, they stay there. Although I can always improve, I keep in touch with people from childhood to the present through technology, face-to-face visits, and even snail mail.

Even when people have moved on or stopped corresponding with me, I continue to try to keep in touch. When my efforts remain unheard, I pray for the well-being of the silent. I’ve experienced joy and I’ve experienced pain because, as I have been told, I am loyal to a fault.

In an ideal world, every relationship would be completely mutual. Realistically, however, everyone has different needs, different problems, different time commitments, and different comfort zones. As writer Emily Mitchell points out, the unconditional love of loyalty doesn’t require equality: “A contract states, 'I do this for you, if you do this for me.' This does not apply in loyal friendships. Payback is not necessary, nor expected. If you are willing to sacrifice, that should be your decision –  one you have willfully chosen to give unconditionally, without expectation.”

Jesus provides the ultimate example of this reality. He offered the greatest sacrifice for us, asking nothing in return. He loves us unconditionally, and every time we neglect to turn to him he must feel abandoned.

As loyal as I try to be toward family and friends, I must shamefully admit that, when I need someone, I tend to seek companionship in those I can see and touch, rather than turning to Jesus. Jesus is the best friend I will ever have, and yet I must hurt him each time I fail to turn to him or fully trust in him. He will support me; he will share my joy. He will always, always be there and yet I know that I often take his steadfast love for granted.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Dt 31:8) Jesus’ loyalty towards us is always 100 per cent. Regardless of our actions or emotions, he will never rescind his attentiveness; however, he must truly rejoice when we, likewise, show loyalty to him. Like any friend, he wants our time, our trust, our love, and our companionship.

True and pure loyalty does not keep track. It recognizes that love and relationships are never completely 50:50. There are always going to be times when we need to put our own needs aside to support others.

Even though we run the risk of smothering others with our love, even though we place ourselves in vulnerable positions, loyalty should never be considered a “fault.” We are all called to be Christ’s loyalty to others. In the words of Emily Mitchell, we must “make the great virtue of loyalty a part of [our] own [lives].”

Above all else, we must recognize whether we are the benefactors or the recipients, on whichever side of the loyalty fence we stand, we never stand alone. Christ, our most loyal friend, is always right beside us, cheering us on and holding us up.

Every single day, Jesus “walks into [our] world when the rest of [our] world is walking out.”

 

Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 09:17  

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