Loyalty And Lasting Relationships
By Daniel Juster

Loyalty begins with the importance of friendship. For 35 years I shared my faith with a Jewish friend from my school days; finally, nine years ago, this friend embraced faith in Yeshua. For many years it had looked hopeless. There had been little response, and our conversations were often repeated. His life was full of sadness and had not developed as he desired. Yet this friend remained important to me.

I was a very overweight youngster who couldn't have won a popularity contest if I'd tried. However, in my junior year of high school I lost a lot of weight and became very thin. Up until this point, I had been the brunt of many jokes. Yet, my friend and I enjoyed hanging out together, despite the fact that he belonged to the cool crowd. One time he even suggested that I would look great as a bartender with arm bands. There was even a way for a fat guy to look cool! In spite of my total un-coolness, my friend and I walked to school together every day. He did not mind that I was a religious fanatic. I was more accepted by my secular school friend than by the peers in the church where I was born again (that is until I lost weight and drove a nice car). His friendship and support became an important anchor in my life.

Just before going to see my friend 9 years ago, Patty shared that she had a strong sense that my friend would embrace faith in Yeshua during that visit. It happened as she predicted. My friend has continued on with the Lord since that day. Loyalty produced significant fruit!

My family taught me the value of loyalty and lasting relationships. The teaching of the Bible increased my commitment to these values. I have discovered that seeking to maintain important relationships is part of loyalty. Here is a little outline of what I have learned over the years about lasting relationships and loyalty.

Friendship and Family as the Beginning of Loyalty

On the most basic level, human life can only be rich when we are committed to family members or a group of friends. Changing friends every few years is a prescription for an empty life. Loyalty requires treating one another with love and understanding. Many who do not know Yeshua intuitively know that this is true, but are unable to attain success in this. Relationships are broken by jealousy, anger, wounds, lack of forgiveness, slander and more.

Covenant Loyalty to Yeshua and to His Community

When we come to Yeshua, we have a covenant relationship in His blood. We are called to treat all brothers and sisters in Him with covenant loyalty. However, this does not become concrete unless we seek to be part of an extended community that expresses our new life in Yeshua. Indeed, life in Yeshua is communal. It is critical to find a community where the hearts of the leaders are committed to love and justice. We become loyal to leaders when we perceive their hearts. True allegiance to leaders means understanding and accepting that they will make many mistakes and show much imperfection. The true character of a leader is the more important matter. Matthew 18 presents us with a community rule so that a proper balance is maintained. Without this, trusting and loyal relationships are impossible. We are told to go to a brother or sister if they sin (against us in some versions) and to correct them alone. Then we go with another. We are not to spread evil reports about fellow members. Only after a process of seeking reconciliation may the community exclude the unrepentant person.

Loyalty to leaders is especially important, for disloyalty destroys the fabric of community. Leaders are subject to Matthew 18 as well, but reports against leaders must have two or three witnesses. Openness, mutual correction, repentance and forgiveness are crucial in a healthy community.

It is important to note that loyalty can be inordinate. When absolute submission is demanded, loyalty is twisted into cultic control. In addition, we are not to think that loyalty means that we overlook serious sin among members and leaders. The Bible provides us with the boundaries of loyalty and shows where separation is necessary. True loyalty makes room for mutual accountability. Leaders who seek loyalty without justice are dangerous.

My Experience with Covenant Loyalty

Our society is one of fleeting relationships. Even many marriages do not last. Covenant loyalty demands the opposite - a commitment to long term relationships. It is a wonderful thing to be part of the same team, congregation or stream of congregations for many years. I have always desired this to be part of my life. However, we should have an absolute loyalty to God above all. Sometimes His call requires us to move on.

The Lord directed me to leave Pascack Bible Church, in Northern New Jersey when I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church. I joined Pascack in 1966. Though I was no longer a member, the relationships formed there were important. I have maintained a connection through the years and will be their missions' speaker this fall! It was clear in 1977 that I had to resign as pastor of Adat Ha Tikvah in Chicago. Patty and I had hoped we would be there for a life-time. We had such dear friends. Yet, we can so clearly see that the Lord led us out, and it was necessary. It was painful and should have been. Yet we still relate to some dear friends from that community.

Then in 1981, I could no longer both lead the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations as President and fulfill my responsibilities as a leader in the Presbyterian denomination. I left the Presbyterian denomination in good standing. I sought the involvement of significant leaders and friends as part of the process of making all of these decisions. I received their confirmation. In my view, to include others in this way is a corollary of covenant love. If they cannot give confirmation, and we have conviction to go, we can at least seek their blessing.

Finally, my quest for a lasting relational base for our ministry was fulfilled most deeply through the leaders of Beth Messiah Congregation in the Washington, D.C. area. God fulfilled the desire of my heart and joined me to a group of leaders who later formed Tikkun International. In just one year, I will have walked in covenant relationship and unity with some of these men and women for 30 years. In addition, what a joy to serve with some of them in Israel! We knew that God was joining us together for the long haul and we were tested in this. Special people have been added to that original core of leaders and expansion has taken place. The ties between leaders and congregations in our stream now reach across the Atlantic.

One can see in the illustration of my life that maintaining long term covenant relationships is an important part of loyalty. Yet it cannot be placed above our loyalty to God and His leading. What if there is a call to the mission field? What if there is imprisonment and communication is lost for many years? Sometimes at great cost we have to sacrifice relational continuity to follow our calling in God while yet hoping that He rejoins us in some way in the future.

We should not be surprised at the importance of loyalty. God is a covenant making God. He keeps covenant loyalty to Israel forever. We can read of this in the stories of David and Jonathan, the disciples and Judas and so much more. This clarifies for us that God puts a high value on loyalty and covenant relationship of love. It is the substance of life's meaning.

By Daniel Juster


Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

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Comments:
11:48 05Jun07 Bob Colver -
A.B. Bud Feuer was my first of 2 Jewish room mates in 1942 at Howe Military School and we have remained friends for 65 yrs. He still appears to be a secret believer, married to a gentile. He is a main reason for my website and love for the Jewish people and Israel as witness to my Watchme on the Walls at www.triumphalrestoration.com Pray for Bud Feuer - I loved the article and its Author, a compassionate leader and full of truth, wisdom, and understanding of God's Word.

12:01 05Jun07 Philip (Pip) Deverill -
Thank you for that little insight into your life. One seldom hears loyalty promoted, but it is such an important part of the Gospel: God's total loyalty to each sinner says it all. Also I do so enjoy hearing of the New Birth of my Jewish brothers and sisters: we, as Gentile Christians have an eternal debt to you.

12:06 05Jun07 anonymous -
Great exhortations to pursue and seek after Godly relationships. Sadly most of my experierence has been to live in isolation and I feel the sting of that daily. Need to reach out to The Body Of Messiah in my area. Thanks -- He is Worthy!!!

13:04 05Jun07 Jim Wagner -
This story was encouraging. I have been talking on the phone for a couple of years to a 59-year old Jewish man who is somewhat skeptical of his own faith and Christianity, even though he has studied both. He is somewhat mentally ill and very depressed, sometimes mentioning suicide. He says that all his friends have abandoned him and feels he may be predestined to destruction. Please pray for him. His name is Dan Kubert.

20:39 05Jun07 Rusty Johnston -
I heard Mike Bickel quote "a lover will always out work a worker". In resonpse to your story I'm feeling very convicted over a relationship I have with a old high school friend. I fell as though after reading your message I have not been very loyal to him as I could be. Because of how I use to let him influence my life in the past I have pushed him away to guard myself, so not to get into trouble. After reading this message I have called my old buddy and we plan to go fishing next week!!! Please be praying: he is not a believer but knows that I am. His name is Ryan, please pray for his salvation.

20:51 05Jun07 anonymous -
This is an excellent and timely article, with so many folk forming ministries at the same time, fulfilling the purposes of Adonai in their lives, but forgetting those who believed in them as they came to this new place of ministry. I wonder if you have any specific suggestions on how to maintain when folk get too busy to communicate? Does one continue writing regardless of no return contact? I suppose an occasionaly telephone call is necessary, right? Not that I am opposed, just seem to fall into an autopilot mode at times, and here I am writing to you like I know you personally ... it is the communication that causes it, it is the anointing of an article or story told ... We just were so blessed having Asher here over the weekend in Kansas City. We love praying for Tikkun and each of your families personally. Our Messianic congregation of five years has blessed us with some of the most solid relationships we have ever experienced in our lives, but we have a few friends from other ministry and parental experiences as well. A few. So we will do what we can to strengthen what remains, and cultivate in every way.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Thank God for the Age to Come where time limitations are not so great. Really, we do have to choose. I have three categories.

  1. Those who we are close to by choice and in working relationship. Our lives are ordered to be together.
  2. Those we choose to maintain relationships with and who communicate with us in return. This includes family not in the home and friends of significance from the past.
  3. Those we so value but do not communicate with us. I so value the relationship that I communicate and always initiate. Why? Because they are a precious part of my past.
Then there is a large circle of positive relationships that we periodically will connect to. It is limited contact but a valued circle.
It does take being pro-active.

21:05 05Jun07 anonymous -
I have been living in an Asian country for seven years. This article saddened me because my life is quiet the opposite. It's difficult to establish relationships in a foreign country where foreigners like myself eventually leave. It's also difficult to find fellowship in a country were churches operate more like a business. I have lost hope in ever finding fellowship here. There's too many churches but not enough truth.

23:20 05Jun07 Angela Davis -
This is an extremely painful thing to read. I have just written yesterday to a friend about how I thought one of the biggest problems in Christianity is leaderships doing the loyalty thing but not to Yeshua/Jesus first. And so, so many of them are doing their flocks such bad service. It is by being loyal to our God and His Word first of all that men like Dan Juster here remember to hold onto those God knows will someday hear/see. I think we must balance this with the fact that Yeshua himself said for a man to "let the dead bury the dead." We can not be faithful to all friends and God. I think it all comes down to the "seek ye first the kingdom of God..." I know the restoration of my children and sister and a few brave others came from me setting my loyalty to walk in the Way God chose for me first.

10:15 08Jun07 Laura Yutronich -
I praise God for His Faithfulness! I love to hear this beautiful message! I believe we are living in our last days and we are being put into the fire: we're either going to burn or shine! Loyalty is a Must! "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" - 2Peter 3:18


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Martin Shoub: Raising the Banner for the Gentiles
Moshe Morrison: Brought from Afar
Asher Intrater: From Assyria to Egypt - the Isaiah 19 Vision
Eddie Santoro: God's Favour on Man