Summary: This sermon is a call for churches to realize the importance of complete loyalty to God.
“WHERE IS YOUR LOYALTY?” 2 Kings 17:33
INTRO – Dr. Thom Rainer is Dean of Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. In an article entitled, “What do numbers tell us?” Rainer shares some eye-opening information:
- Across America, we Christians reach only one person for Christ for every 85 members in our churches.
- Southern Baptists like to say that we do twice as well in that we baptize 1 person for every 40 members. But if you back out the Christians that we baptize that are coming from non-immersion denominations and re-baptisms, our numbers come pretty close to matching up w/ the national average of 1:85.
- A “growing” church is defined by Rainer as a church that is “not only increasing in attendance, but it is increasing at a pace faster than its community’s population growth rate. In a survey of 1,159 churches in America, only 6% are growing according to his definition of “growing.” In other words, 94% of our churches are losing ground in the communities they serve. (www.churchcentral.com)
I don’t know if MBC and FBCJ would be in the 6% or in the 94%. But I do know that no matter which group our churches would be in, our job as Christians and as God’s church has not changed.
- His command to love Him w/ all our heart, soul, mind, and strength has not changed.
- His commission to make disciples of all men has not changed.
- His challenge to be His witnesses in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth has not changed.
- His comforting promise that He will be w/ us always has not changed.
So whether we are:
- “Seeking God through authentic worship & personal discipleship; Sharing Christ with the lost of our community & world; & Serving others by our missions giving & actions” as MBC;
- Or “Loving God; loving each other; learning & obeying the Word of God; and committing our lives, talents, & resources to the task of telling as many as we can about the love of God in Jesus Christ” as FBCJ;
We must be about the task of being the churches that God has called us to be in the communities where He has placed us. And we must make sure that our loyalty to Him is steadfast and sure.
Unfortunately, this verse in 2 Kings is a pretty good snapshot of the modern-day church and modern-day Xnty. It’s a picture of divided loyalty.
- They worshipped the Lord;
- BUT they also served their own gods.
The churches in that 94% figure may well be in their declining state in large part b/c of the divided loyalty of many of their members. Christianity suffers more from divided loyalty than from any other weakness. God has clearly said that it is not enough to just declare our faith; we must demonstrate our faith with the living of our lives for His glory and His honor.
- “These people come near to me w/ their mouth and honor me w/ their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isa. 29:13)
o “Dear God, please don’t let that be true of me! My family! My church!”
More damage is done to our witness through divided loyalty than by any other means. So the simple question that I would like to pose for each of us to consider this evening: Where is your loyalty? Could it be said of you that you “worship the Lord, but also serve your own gods”?
There are 2 assertions that I would like for us to consider as we think about our loyalty to God:
I. LOYALTY TO GOD SUPERCEDES ALL OTHER LOYALTIES.
A. The first commandment that God gave to Moses was “You shall have no other gods before me.”
i. God is serious about our loyalty to Him. Are we serious about our loyalty to Him?
B. Billy Graham once published a letter that was written by a young communist to his girlfriend, breaking off the relationship b/c of his loyalty to the communist cause:
i. “We communists have a high casualty rate. We are the ones who get shot and hung and ridiculed and fired from our jobs and in every other way made as uncomfortable as possible. A certain percentage of us get killed or imprisoned. We live in virtual poverty. We turn back to the party every penny we make above what is absolutely necessary to keep us alive.
ii. We communists do not have time or the money for many movies or concerts or t-bone steaks or decent homes or new cars. We’ve been described as fanatics. We are fanatics! Our lives are dominated by one great, overshadowing factor: the struggle for world communism. We have a philosophy of life which no amount of money could buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty personal selves into a greater movement of humanity; and if our personal lives seem hard or our egos appear to suffer through subordination to the party, then we are adequately compensated by the thought that each of us, in his small way, is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind.