I sat across the living room from the older Hindu gentleman. This was while living in Kenya Africa. We had been having an interesting, free-flowing discussion. He had shown himself to be well educated which always enlivens the conversation. At one point, I mentioned how, if you are praying and see a pretty woman and think lustful thoughts, God wouldn’t accept your prayer. This is a clear concept in Christianity. He, though, looked at me puzzled, and asked, “Why?” This hadn’t been the first time I had used a variant of God doesn’t hear your prayers when you have an unconfessed sin. I was totally confused by the response each time, but finally thought, “well, that logic doesn’t work for some reason.” Years late, I learned that for him, as long as he was loyal to his gods, and the little statues (idols) that represented them, he was fine. What he did with the rest of his life didn’t matter to the gods.
Years later, while in graduate school, we had an incident in our city. A black man, a father, got off his meds and was running around naked. His mother called the police to help calm him down and help him get back on the meds. They came out and ended up shooting and killing him. Of course we held protest marches. The city didn’t label the killing justified. They couldn’t claim that a naked man had a weapon. Neither, though, would they allow the police officer to be tried for a crime. They declared it a judgment call. Again, I was puzzled. Why wouldn’t they let a Grand Jury at least hear the evidence?
Mulling these incidents over, I realized that people expect loyalty to be rewarded. In the Hindu man’s beliefs, one simply needed to remain loyal to His god or gods. For the policeman, he was a loyal employee of the city, hardworking, and a family man. What he did to the Black man was not as important as his loyalty. I am used to the American concept of “break one law and you have to pay the penalty, no matter how good you have been elsewhere.” This ignoring sin or lawbreaking because of loyalty feels so wrong. It felt like the Mafia. As long as you were loyal to the Capo (or righteous= right with the Capo) you could be as evil as you wanted.
Recently, I was studying the Biblical concept of righteousness. I had thought it was like Holiness. Holy is pure. Righteous is having been declared pure. I was wrong. Righteous (Hebrew sedaqa) denotes a relationship. When we become one with God, we become righteous. Job put it, “I put on righteousness, I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor and supported the cause of him whom I did not know.” (29:14-16) For God, loyalty means becoming righteous. One can’t claim to be loyal to God without being consumed by love for the unloved. People who say they are loyal Christians but spew hate or rejection toward any group (Muslim, Gay, Mexican, Evolutionist, Athiest, etc.) are not loyal. Loyal acts like attending Church, Singing, Painting are all worthless without love.