My grandfather was a proud union member.  He drove Chevys.  My grandmother would wash clothes with Tide detergent only.  You could say they were brand loyal.  He never considered any other automobile brand nor she a different laundry detergent.  They believed they had the right product and they would be faithful supporters their entire lives.  This idea of loyalty carried over into many areas of their lives.  My grandparents were not the only people who felt this way it was nearly universal in the way that previous generation operated.  From church to sports to vacation spots they were inherently loyal.
I remember the battle in the part of the world where I lived when the quality of American cars seemed to be deteriorating, and foreign cars seemed to have both value and reliability.  The arguments seemed much more steeped in loyalty rather than improving the quality of the product.  It was too late, loyalty no longer ruled the day.  Value and quality and several other things were now what factored into decision making.  Recently, Susanne, I attended a meeting in Charleston, South Carolina and we needed a ride from the airport.  Instead of using our Uber app we climbed into a taxi and were on our way to the motel.  The lady driving the cab happened to be the owner of the company.  She described the travails of being a taxi company owner: Uber was about to put her out of business, not only would she and her husband go into another line of work, but so would the other three drivers she employed.  Her arguments mirrored the auto-workers arguments I heard in the 1980’s:  Uber is not regulated, we have to be insured and regulated and they do not have to be as regulated.  While she was talking about her plight, I turned my phone over on my lap just to make sure she did not see my Uber App!  I was saddened by her situation and immediately scheduled our return trip to the airport with her company.  Though I felt sorry for her at the moment, I still have not increased my use of taxis.
I hear folks at churches talk about how there is no loyalty and they believe that if people were just more loyal, things would get better.  I have started asking these people if they drive “American” cars?  Do I receive all kinds of looks like what has that go to do with what we’re talking about? Yes.  At this point, they want to get into a debate as to what constitutes an American car? Or When the American auto companies make as good a car as… then I will buy one.  I ask a couple of follow up questions, and then I say: “You are not brand loyal and yet you are surprised that people are not loyal to your church.  You have to offer more than brand loyalty!  We have to offer the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel of Christ is one of transformation and grace.  We must proclaim the Gospel that is for the disenfranchised, the outcast, those who are marginalized. No longer can we count on the culture to assist us with our mission.  We must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives and congregations as we seek to fulfill Christ”s mission.  No one in our world will care that our lives are being disrupted!  Perhaps our lives are being disrupted so that we can start trusting Christ and not ourselves, our plans and programs!  We need the grace and mercy of Christ to be evident in our lives and let our lives reflect HIs marvelous grace!   What a wonderful time to be alive!  The opportunities are endless and amazing!

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