Summer 2024

Daily Devotional: Friday, January 26 - Divided Loyalty

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.'” — John 6:66-69

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We live in a world of endless options. If we don’t like something, there’s usually an alternative we can turn to almost instantaneously. There are plenty of examples of this in the sports world, too.

Thousands of college athletes enter the NCAA transfer portal every offseason, switching schools two or even three times before the end of their college career. Professional sports have free agency, where players can sign with different teams when their contract with one runs out. Coaches change jobs often, looking to capitalize on the next opportunity. It even happens on the business side of sports. If a general manger or coach is ready to move on from one player, they can trade or release them.

Many of these decisions are made out of a genuine desire by the athlete or coach to do what they feel is best for themselves and/or their family. GMs often defend their decisions by arguing they’re doing what they feel is right for their organization. But in some cases, it’s evident that people are looking to something, someone or somewhere else for their satisfaction, because they feel they’re not getting it with what they have currently. For some, it’s as simple as this: Things get hard, and rather than sticking it out, it’s easier to just look for something else that appears to be better.

Fans are certainly guilty of this, too. When their team struggles, especially for extended periods of time, some jump ship and become bandwagon fans of other teams experiencing more success.

A couple years ago, Cincinnati Reds fans voiced displeasure with the organization’s front office, essentially claiming they were cheap and unwilling to spend money on quality free agents to make the team competitive. The team made the postseason as a No. 7 seed in 2020, when they playoffs were expanded to eight teams per league during the pandemic-shortened season, but before that had not been since 2013. The Reds haven’t won a National League Central Division title since 2012. Fans have been restless.

Team president Phil Castellini irked those fans when he responded to criticism and comments from fans who said his father, team owner Bob Castellini, should sell the team to someone who would try harder to compete.

“Well, where are you going to go?” Phil Castellini said. It was indeed a provocative retort, but he challenged members of the passionate Reds fanbase. He was basically saying, “This is your team. What are you going to do, quit being a fan and go root for someone else?” Reasonable minds can debate on whether it was the most tactful response or not, but there’s something profound and even Biblical in Castellini’s remarks.

When life gets hard, where are we going to go? When we don’t like our current situation, where or to whom will we turn?

In John 6, we see Jesus feed the 5,000 on bread and fish, walk on water, and explain that He is the bread of life, that whoever comes to Him will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Him will never be thirsty. He explains that the only way to God is through Him who was sent by the Father, and those who believe in Him will receive eternal life.

The Jews in this passage are confused and skeptical. To them, what Jesus was saying didn’t quite add up. Some weren’t totally convinced that He was who He said He was. Verse 60 reads, “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?'” Jesus doubles down that what He has said is true. He acknowledges that some in the crowd still do not believe and He knows who will betray Him.

In verse 66, we read that many of His disciples turn their back and decide to no longer follow Jesus. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asks the Twelve in verse 67. Simon Peter answers, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (vv. 68-69).

There have been plenty of times in my walk with God when I didn’t understand what was going on or why something happened. I’ve been frustrated and angry with God when certain circumstances arise. This world provides a million options for places to turn instead of to God, and I’m guilty, at times, of turning to them instead of to Jesus, thinking they would provide better comfort. Are you guilty of this, too?

I want to be more like Simon Peter here. When life gets hard, where else would I go but to Jesus? Let us turn to the Bread of Life, the One who provides salvation and eternal life.

Cole Claybourn

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