"don't split the poles".....
Four words, but with such a profound meaning behind them. Tonight I met 'John', a man no more than 30, but with a history as long as America's. A man who's whole world revolved around how he's going to get his next high. A man who wonders where he's going to be able to buy enough drugs to turn around and sell so he can put food on the table for kids that aren't even his,and for a woman whose dominering nature and his own addictions are suffocating him as I write. Yet a man with loyalty that runs so deep, he even tries to protect me and make me understand why this loyalty is so important. Don't split the poles really means.... don't leave our group, don't abandon us.. they'll eat you alive out there if you do (go out there alone)..... it's dangerous on the other side of the pole. And he's right.... for 'John' and so many like him (and for us all, if we're honest), there's danger in being alone. there's danger in succluding ourselves, even if we don't mean to. But there's help, and security (even if it's minimal) in loyalty.
God's been challening my heart with loyalty a lot in this last year. I've had to give a deep look at what I see as loyalty, how I deal with staying loyal even when it's with things I don't agree with, and what type of loyalty I give to the people in my life. I've also had to wrestle with giving people too much loyalty, when I know they're "walking all over me" or when they don't return the loyalty. Now, I'm not saying that all loyalty needs to be returned, at least not in the same way... no, certainly not. But you can't be incredibly loyal to a person who doesn't give two hoots about you.. you just can't... and if you're trying.. it's not healthy. I'm convinced of that, and have been convicted of that lately.
God has used Dan's family, and lately, my Emmaus guys to challenge my heart in the area of loyalty. Things that they didn't get growing up that I did are yes of (some) importance, but I think there's a sense of loyalty and love that maybe i didn't see. A loyalty that runs so deep the bonds of addiction, abuse, jail, "the system".... nothing... can break it. Now, of course, sometimes with things like abuse,it's not healthy, nor good to keep that loyalty. But what I've found is more than not.... this incredible sense of loyalty is a wonderful thing. And sometimes, the only thing that gets people through.
How does this effect us white suburban people....? us middle-class christian people...? well... I'm not sure if it DOES... but it SHOULD impact us profoundly. I think this sense of loyalty is very much lacking in the church of today. Yes, we say we'll "pray for you" and we'll "be thinking of you".....but where does the rubber meet the road... what does that look like to someone trying to kick a meth habit, or someone trying to get out of the cycle of prostitution, or someone dealing with an extremely broken and disfunctional home...... what does our cliche "I'll pray for you" mean..? usually it means just another "institution" letting them down, but this time it's the church. The body of Christ. But that's not true.... or, it shouldn't be true. The body of Christ should rise above. Rise above the labels that are put on us, or the hypocracy that we hate but see all the time in our churches. Rise above and love people. Rise above and ACTUALLY pray. Rise above and see them where they are, desire to see them somewhere else... but take them as they are.... take them as Jesus does.
So how can I... how can you... how are we, as a body of Christ take people as Jesus does.... this week.....? Don't just think about it... do it! :)