Looking for Loyalty in a Culture of “just interested.”

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“Interested” is now viral. I see it everyday. It shows up on my Facebook feed as “so and so is interested” in an event near you. My friend’s interest is meant to spark my interest and now I too can join the search for applause by marking my interest. Its tempting to just cast dispersion on the interest button with “Really? Are we really going to reduce the levels of our engagement in life to ‘she was interested?’”

The INTERESTED button is a bid.

Now the ironic part of the interested wave is that sometimes that expression of interest does get turned into action, especially if there are other folks “interested.” Thus, I see the “interest” button as an expression of our search for loyalty. The button expresses our longing for deeper friendships with whom we might share life. My suspicion is that when my friends are pushing the “interested” button they are actually putting a bid out there for someone to reach back to them  and say, “Hey I’m interested in that too, lets do it together.”

The problem.

The problem here is that most of us were really “just interested” when we clicked the button. The button exists because we think its ok, to be just interested. There is no intent. There is no adjustment. There is no commitment. Just interest. So we don’t show up. But we got credit for being interested. I think this is a problem. As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux observes, “Hell is full of good intentions.”

When we settle for just interest we are settling for a life without loyalties. Loyalty in relationships is a reciprocating experience. And loyalty as part of my character is built on making commitments known and then making the adjustments required to fulfill them. This is not to suggest that loyal people never miss the mark on their words. Rather, when loyal people do miss the mark, they acknowledge the fact, and will give an account for their absence.

Loyalty as Steadfast Love

The Scripture captures loyalty in the phrase “steadfast love.” Its part of the nature of God. Its meant to be part of the lives of those who know him. The friendship of King David in the Old Testament and Jonathon, son of King Saul, is marked by “steadfast love.” When we read of their friendship in 1 Samuel 20 we must see it through the lens of the Law, covenant making and God’s steadfast-love. Under the strain of King Saul’s murderous intentions, Jonathan and David are at a cross-roads in their friendship. The reader is confronted with the tensions created by loyalties to family, to friends, and even to God. In the text below, David is already convinced of Saul’s intentions but Jonathan is not.

12And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. 14If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; 15and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David’s enemies.” 17And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.  1 Samuel 20:12-16

Loyalty that resists evil and seeks the godly benefit of another is steadfast love. Both Jonathan and David understood the quality as one rooted in the character of their covenant-making God. Throughout the Scripture the steadfast love of God is celebrated and commended to us as what we need and as what we long for in relationships.

Meditation

Take some time to meditate on the following:

Lamentations 3:17-26
17 My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

 

2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

 

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