Thursday, November 04, 2010

Loyalty or Love?

Loyalty or Love?

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. John 13:1

In John 13 Jesus washes His disciples feet because he loved them from beginning to the end. Peter does not understand that Jesus' only motivation in washing their feet was love. Peter really did not yet understand the power of love is greater than the power of human loyalty.

It appears that Peter thinks that letting Jesus wash his feet is some sort of test of submission and loyalty. He gets this so wrong that he eventually offers to let Jesus wash his hands and his head as well. It is as if he is saying "I am completely loyal! Wash away!"

Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!"
Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" John 13:8-9

As his confusion about what Jesus wanted deepens Peter insists that he would be so loyal to Jesus that he would be willing to die for Jesus that very day. He thinks Jesus wants his loyalty. Jesus wanted Peter to receive His love so Peter could love. Jesus tells Peter that he will not be loyal and he would deny Him three times before the night ends. So much for human loyalty!

Loyalty is not what Jesus wants from us. He wants us to receive His love. His love is what will inspire us to love. Jesus wants us to receive His love and release it to others whether they are loyal or not. That is what Jesus did for Peter and the others when he washed their feet. He was loving them out of His Father's love for them.

I have been around Christian organizations that make a bigger deal about loyalty than they do about love. I have also demanded people be loyal to me as if being loyal to me proved they were loyal to Jesus. I know what I was after when I demanded their loyalty was for a good purpose. What Christian organizations are after when loyalty is made the goal is also something good.

By asking for loyalty I was seeking a guarantee from others to quiet my fears that they would fail me and our holy task. Over time I discovered that what I really needed to quiet my fears and complete the holy task is Jesus' love for me and for them and not their promised loyalty to me and our holy task.

Only God supplied and inspired love in Jesus will quiet fears and complete the holy, loving task we are called to complete. Helping people be loved by Jesus more and more is the only way we can find the kind of lasting relationships we dream of having.

Christian organizations would do better to make a great deal about how much Jesus loves us all and how He calls us to love others like He did. They would do better to let Jesus love them deeply and then love as Jesus loves. This kind of love creates loyal connections and efforts that last. It is great love received from Jesus that produces great loyalty and unity. Human loyalty does not produce or sustain love. Peter tried to make that formula work and failed miserably.

It was great love from Jesus that restored Peter after he denied Jesus three times. Loyalty did not send Jesus to find Peter and restore him. It was great love.

If you have any hope for experiencing true loyalty from others, pray that they will receive Jesus' love moment by moment. When they receive His love they will wash your feet even if you fail them.

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