Mid-Week Inspiration: Wednesday, January 25, 2023
In the Hebrew Bible, the book of Daniel, the main character is being asked to be disloyal to God. Some leaders in Babylon were jealous of the success that Daniel, the Jewish exile, was having with king Darius. They convince the king to sign a decree into law that states any person who prays to anyone besides the king should be thrown into a den of lions.
The scripture says, “Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10). The conspirators see Daniel praying, remind the king of his law and that it could not be broken.
They have Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. The next morning the king runs down to the lion’s den to see if Daniel has become an appetizer. He calls out, and Daniel replies, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong” (Daniel 6:22). Daniel remained loyal to God even at the threat of his own life.
Loyalty is not blind. We are not being loyal when we go along with plans to hurt others.
Loyalty is being faithful to a commitment or obligation. It is keeping our word. Loyalty is being faithful to our friendships. It forces us to choose who and what counts in our lives. Loyalty means I will be trustworthy no matter how difficult the situation is.
But we must also readily admit that sometimes we have been disloyal. At times we have betrayed ourselves, those we love, and God.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about his own betrayal and death. One of his disciples, Peter, says, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” Less than twenty-four hours later, Jesus is dragged before the High Priest. Peter watches from the courtyard. He is asked three times by those standing around about being with Jesus, and Peter denies it thrice. Peter had just affirmed his loyalty to Jesus, and now in the moments when Jesus needs him the most, Peter is disloyal. He runs off feeling like a failure.
How many of us can name a time when we have been disloyal? A time when we have betrayed the trust of a friend, family member, or even ourselves? How many of us have let someone down? How many of us have let God down?
The Good News is that we do not have to live as disloyal people. After his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples. He looks at Peter, the one who was disloyal, and asks, “Do you love me?” He asks not just one time but three times. Then he tells Peter, “Feed my sheep” (John 21: 17). In other words, be loyal to me and my purpose for your life.
The Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). While we were disloyal, Christ died for us. His loyalty to us gives us back the lives we lost in our disloyalty. When we did not deserve it, God remained loyal. God’s forgiveness amid our disloyalty is reason enough for us to remain loyal to God and those depending on us.
(Music performed by the Modern Worship Team of Gainesville First United Methodist Church, Gainesville, Georgia)
Looking for a small group study?
Faith Fundamentals: A Study on The Apostles’ Creed
Led by Rev. Sandy Skinner / begins Wednesday, January 11 / 6:00 - 7:00 pm / S-06/ Gainesville First UMC, Gainesville, Georgia
Most of us recite together The Apostles’ Creed every Sunday, but how many times have we stopped to meditate on WHAT we are saying and WHY we are saying it? Using the works of Timothy C. Tennent and Luke Timothy Johnson, we will spend five weeks looking at the origins of the creed and the fundamental statements of belief. This is for those new to the Apostles’ Creed and a refresher for those who have grown up with it as a tradition in their faith.
God will not give you more than you can handle. Have you ever had that spoken to you? The person sharing it may have meant well, but it is misleading. Abby Burle will join me this Sunday in worship at Gainesville First United Methodist Church (gfumc.com) to challenge the statement and speak a word of hope in situations that may seem overwhelming.
Click here to read more about Abby’s mission to ensure we all know that “Everyone deserves to belong!”