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Denominational Loyalty

It is always a pathetic sight to see a church that has lost the Truth and its spiritual power appealing to its members for allegiance.  Pathetic also on the part of those who are thus exhorted is the attempt to make an honest response to such an appeal.

For usually in every church there is an element that carries in its heart a spiritual seriousness, and honesty and orderliness and loyalty.  And that element usually has memories of better days when father and mother and the previous generation, found joy and strength and peace in that church.

And finally this loyalty is pathetic because having lost the guidance of the pure truth it stands in the way of that very health and welfare that is being sought.

Now we may not deny that loyalty has its great value.  It is undoubtedly the will of God that we shall highly honor those relationships in which God in His providence has bound us.  As children of a family we shall honor father and mother as those through whose hand God is pleased to rule us, and we shall be patient with their weaknesses.  As citizens of the land we shall be subject to the authorities for God’s sake.  As members of the church we shall obey them that have the rule over us who spoke unto us the Word of God, and we shall support the organization with our goods and gifts and talents.

And we may also go a step further and hold that to a certain extent true love desires not to see sin but to hide it.  For as long as a sin or weakness is not a logical outcome and product of that which the church openly professes and stands for, it is not at all duty to expose and reveal it as a warning to others.  True love covers the sin of the church from the eyes of the uncharitable, unsympathetic and profane, who have not the spiritual judgment to evaluate a sin or a weakness according to its true character.

And yet the tragic part of this love is that it is blind and does not use the only remedy that can give clearness of vision, namely, the word of God. It has been said that people in such a church are like people being overcome by gas fumes in their lounging chair, they only know that they are getting a little drowsy.

Thus all kinds of remedies are applied that are essentially earthly.  New clubs are organized, movements are set on foot, mottoes are coined.  Be more faithful in attendance at services; bring a friend; say a good word for the minister; redecorate the auditorium; improve the social parlors.

And although all these may be good in themselves, none of them really answer to the appeal for revitalizing.

The only remedy is to return to the truth and an even living close to that truth.  And in many churches that means a way of criticism and rebuke and conflict.

Now in our Beacon Lights we would like to view this especially from the view-point of young people.  Shall we resort to all the above devices to show loyalty to, and help build the church.  No, indeed we will be called to something quite different.

It will mean in the first place that we know increasingly better just what our church confesses in close connection with the Word of God from which we claim to have built our doctrine.

It will also mean certainly that we know these principles as they have been further developed by our leaders who have been given us of God to open the Word for us.

Thirdly we must see this truth in all its power to guide, strengthen and comfort us in our calling as children of God in this world.

Fourthly, that we strive to live from those principles with heart and soul and mind and strength in all relations of life.

Now to me it seems that this calling will become increasingly difficult because of the increasingly difficult because of the increasing complexity of life and also because of the ripening of the world in the sin-process.  In this respect there is quite a difference between today and the time of our beginning as churches.  We need mention only the most familiar, such as Labor Unions, Governmental regimentation, and the tendency toward consolidation.

Moreover there is the branching out of our generations and the branching into various fields of life.  Many of our young men in the service have expressed a strong liking for their particular line of work, especially if it is work giving an outlet to their specific gifts.  Others of our young men and women are taking higher education and are looking forward to various vocations.

Now one might easily get the impression from the deliverances of some Calvinists, that Calvinism is a religion especially for the intelligentsia.  But Scripture knows nothing thereof.  It knows of no class or color that cannot be sanctified and glorified by the power of grace.

But it does teach that all—exactly all—classes can and must be brought under the dominion of the Reformed truth and those to whom God has given unusual gifts or calling stand under responsibility.   And especially those young people who come into contact with the world of refined development, will have to learn and live the deep implication of the Antithesis as it is corrupted by any form of Arminianism.

Let us be glad that insofar as we strive for such allegiance to the truth and to the church, we can do so without opposition from within.  We do not have to complain that we love the church but that all efforts for her welfare are misunderstood and in vain, as this is true in so many churches.  A revival of life is always in order in any church and such a revival is always welcomed by those who sincerely love the church as a possession of God.

But let us not forget that faithfulness and loyalty at this stage always begins at home. We cannot and need not direct our efforts against an institution or against leaders, but will have to begin with self.  And a faithfulness and loyalty must always go back to the means of grace; not only faithful attendance to, but above all faithful use of them in our lives.

That is the beginning of a revival, which is necessary for us at all times, and surely makes its influence felt beginning by those nearest us; it is also the only way to begin any reformation that may appear necessary.

 

Teach me, O Lord, Thy way of truth,

And from it I will not depart,

That I may steadfastly obey,

Give me an understanding heart.

 

In Thy commandments make me walk,

For in Thy law my joy shall be;

Give me a heart that loves Thy will,

From discontent and envy free.

 

Turn Thou my eyes from vanity,

And cause me in Thy ways to tread;

O let Thy servant prove Thy word

And thus to godly fear by led.