Updated: May 4, 2021
Loyalty is often a one-way road in church life. As long as you are a committed member of the church or church clique you belong to, you are accepted. But once you depart, for whatever reason, you are soon considered as an outcast – even by former friends and close acquaintances. You are stigmatized, ostracized and rejected. Often, when the comfortable rhythms of their church life is disturbed by our stance they become fearful and threatened to be around us. For all intents and purposes, you become a spiritual leper in their eyes.
The clubhouse mentality of most churches requires for you to go along to get along with whatever the church program is. Once you begin to question the oversight, what the church is teaching or buck the system for any reason you are on the slippery slope of being branded as a rebel. It is only a matter of time before you become a persona non grata. Club membership requires unquestioning allegiance and loyalty. But like the saying goes, “There are those who aren’t really loyal to you – they are only loyal to their need of you. Once they no longer need you, they are no longer loyal to you.”
In most churches, regardless of what kind of a church it is, as long as you are faithfully attending, faithfully participation and faithfully giving with no questions being asked you are one of them. Stop doing any and you become a church pariah. Many are treated as if they have a contagious disease and kept at a discrete distance. Long ago, people infected with leprosy were called, “The Untouchables.” No one wanted to go near them or be touched by them least they also be infected. Those outside of their church circle are often treat as spiritual untouchables. Fellowship ceases and then tapers off to estrangement. I have seen it many times and experienced both sides of that coin.
Tragically, those who have exp erienced spiritual failure, sinned or failed to live up to the expectations of church life are often shunned, stigmatized and silently shamed by fellow churchgoers even after they get right with God. Many who bear these wounds have learned that church acceptance and loyalty only goes to far.
Often church life is a one-way road that heads only their direction. Those who fall short or don’t measure up to church expectations are either excluded from various church clicks or relegated to a kind of second-class status in a church no-man’s-land. Often, they are viewed as flawed and spiritually questionable. Like the wounded man left by the wayside they too are often discarded, abandoned and ignored. Because of self-righteousness, smug superiority, and judgementalism many find that loyalty has its limits. In too many cases Christians have found that the wounds of a friend are not always faithful.
Many who have responded to God’s call to “come out of her my people” have experienced the pain and the shame of being cast outside of the camp. Those of God’s remnant are intimately acquainted with the dynamics of one-way loyalty. It doesn’t matter what position you may have held, how many years of faithful service you gave or how close knit your circle of church friends were, once you become a Berean, question the leadership, or disagree with the direction the church is taking contrary to God’s Word, your useful shelf live suddenly expires and you become disposable, worthless and an “outsider”. The prevailing pulpit mentality often comes down to this blunt reality; "It's our way or the highway!"
How many in the bible have known rejection and betrayal? How many have suffered banishment, exile, and excommunication? Think of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David the prophets, the apostles and Jesus. Think of all the faithful throughout the church age who stood against the winds of deception and falsehood and paid a heavy price for their loyalty to God. Think about the uncompromising loyalty of Jesus who said He would "never leave or forsake us.” Even if all the world turned their backs on you, Jesus would still be standing by your side. His loyalty is unconditional.