Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
[Jesus replied] “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” — John 11:7-16
Loyalty is a word that has fallen out of favor and is not respected as highly as it once was. In fact, the most common place the word is used now is with Customer Loyalty Programs that might knock a couple bucks of your grocery bill, but are abandoned as soon as another store offers a lower price. In a society that looks at all forms of authority with suspicion, someone who is loyal is gullible—blindly believing what they are told, a “sheep”— or a fool denying themselves the benefits of hopping onto the next best thing. Even marriage vows, the most sacred, life-long commitment people should make, is viewed as something that is only honored as long as it is convenient.
For many, it is far more important to keep your options open, to be able to jump ship and position yourself to take advantage of whatever circumstance presents itself. Deep down we know that this is not right. It’s one of the reasons that we look down on “bandwagon fans,” who switch their loyalty all the time to make sure they are cheering for the winning team. We recognize the value of being a person of integrity, someone who stands by their words and follows through on their commitments, but we struggle when it comes to actually living that out.
In today’s Scripture, we see a great example of loyalty in action. Thomas had made a commitment to follow Jesus. He would go where Jesus led them, and do what Jesus told them to do. That meant he was even willing to follow him even unto death and encouraged the other disciples to do the same. He didn’t have to do that. In fact, many of Jesus’ other followers had abandoned him along the way, but not Thomas.
“Doubting” Thomas is most often remembered for his skepticism in the aftermath of Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, I think Thomas’ skepticism was just a natural consequence of his pessimistic/realist way of viewing things. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t committed. He was all in, but he just needed a little assurance along the way, which is something I can easily relate to. Because he was loyal, Thomas was able to witness one of the greatest miracles in recorded history, the resurrection of Lazarus!
Like most commitments, being a disciple of Christ requires a daily decision to follow through. Each day presents another opportunity to leave the path. It is full of exit ramps and road-side attractions to distract you. However, we must stay focused on the destination and committed to the journey. When we are faithful to our commitment, God is sure to reward that loyalty!
PRAYER: Father, thank you for always being faithful to us. We can always count on You. Help us to display that same level of faithfulness and loyalty, to You and to the people around us. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.