Yesterday, I read an article about a woman who was a major fan of the current occupant of the White House. I frame it this way because there have been other people who have occupied the White House who have had huge fans as well. And, assuming there will be other occupants of the White House, it is a fair assumption that there will also be major fans of those individuals as well. These fans will give their undying devotion and turn a blind eye to all negative aspects of the object of their loyalty – no matter how bad it is.
This isn’t about the current occupant of the White House. There’s nothing special about him really. Or any of the previous occupants either. You see, the story could have been about any number of people who are major fans of politicians. Or celebrities. Or celebrity pastors. Or sports figures.
The story gave some details of how this person came to become a major fan and has stuck with the president through thick and thin. But the really interesting part of the article was about what her loyalty has cost her.
Her grandson has essentially disowned her. She has lost friends and family members have shied away from her. But she is sticking with the president.
I wonder, if that kind of loyalty worth it? Is it worth losing family and friends for loyalty to someone who is temporarily in a position of power and in the spotlight? I’m not talking about quiet support. I’m talking about vocal support.
Was it worth it for die-hard fans of the previous occupant of the White House? Or the one before him? Or before him? Or any of them?
The reality is this – occupants of the White House are there for 4-8 years normally. You are stuck with your family for a lifetime. And they know where you live. And you’re more likely to see them than any celebrity or person of influence.
Is your loyalty to someone who is here today and will be gone tomorrow worth this much? Is partisan loyalty worth this much? Is ideology worth this much? Are you willing to die for your party? For you ideology? Are you willing to be alone in the world for these things? For a politician? Is it worth it?
What does this kind of loyalty offer in return? The women in the story said the following about her loyalty – “I’ve saved America and I am very proud.”
Politics and religion are more similar than we like to admit. It’s no surprise that for most of human history, religion and politics have been intimately related – often with politics using and abusing religion for its own ends. Sometimes religion using and abusing politics. The end goal for either one was the acquisition and use of power.
And both have a message of salvation. Both paint a picture of salvation. And both offer saviors who come to our rescue to save us from evil. I’m not surprised that political rhetoric uses and abuses religious terms. Politics can often look and act like a religious cult.
While there are born again evangelicals who believe that God sent the current occupant of the White House to save the nation, it would be wise to remember that there were plenty of people who talked about the previous occupant of the White House in terms of “Messiah.”
And in both cases, they are wrong. They have traded in faith in God for other things. They have cheapened religion and faith and put faith in flawed human beings and broken ideologies. They have elevated politics and partisan loyalty to the level of faith and obedience to God. They have made idols out of parties and figures who can not save anyone or anything.
This isn’t the first time people have put their faith in flawed humans and ideologies. If you read the book of Daniel, you will see story after story about a king who demands blind loyalty and worship by his followers and offers them false salvation. Only he disappoints people over and over again. When you look at Rome, you see the mixing of religion and politics to the point where the emperor was considered a god who brought Glad Tidings, Good News, and salvation. He was Lord of Lord, King of Kings. And he was to be worshiped and people of the empire were to have blind loyalty. He offered salvation and peace. And he also failed ultimately. Time after time, humanity has bought into the faulty notion that we can save ourselves and others. That our systems offer salvation. That our ideologies can save us.
And every time, we fail miserably costing people’s lives and creating destruction. We don’t learn very easily.
There will be others who will rise to power. And there will be plenty who follow blindly, offering their loyalty to another false savior who will disappoint and fail.
Yet, in history, there has only been one true Savior – Jesus. He doesn’t come offering false salvation. He doesn’t promise to bring peace by destroying our enemies.
Loyalty to him is costly though, just as loyalty to anyone we consider a savior has been throughout history. But the difference is this – loyalty to Jesus is worth it. He is the only one that offers true salvation. Peter said it best – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
Where does our loyalty lie? With who? Are they worth it?