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Loyalty to the King
There is little, if anything, that brings such sweetness to the soul of devout Christian parents as their children’s allegiance to the risen Savior King. And few things are so harrowing as the prospect that one’s child might abandon Him, who is the Source of all life and goodness. Thus, parents possessing a vibrant devotion to Christ cannot help but ponder the means of cultivating such devotion in their children. Children are a sacred mystery and their formation a sacred duty. How precisely is this duty to be fulfilled? Consider Charlotte Mason’s conclusion to her first book, Home Education:
The Essence of Christianity is Loyalty to a Person – Christ, our King. Here is a thought to unseal the fountains of love and loyalty, the treasures of faith and imagination, bound up in the child. The very essence of Christianity is personal loyalty, passionate loyalty to our adorable Chief. We have laid other foundations –– regeneration, sacraments, justification, works, faith, the Bible — any one of which, however necessary to salvation in its due place and proportion, may become a religion about Christ and without Christ. And now a time of sifting has come upon us, and thoughtful people decline to know anything about our religious systems; they write down all our orthodox beliefs as things not knowable. Perhaps this may be because, in thinking much of our salvation, we have put out of sight our King, the divine fact which no soul of man to whom it is presented can ignore.
In the idea of Christ is life; let the thought of Him once get touch of the soul, and it rises up, a living power, independent of all formularies of the brain. Let us save Christianity for our children by bringing them into allegiance to Christ, the King. How? How did the old Cavaliers 1 bring up sons and daughters, in passionate loyalty and reverence for not too worthy princes? Their own hearts were full of it; their lips spake it; their acts proclaimed it; the style of their clothes, the ring of their voices, the carriage of their heads––all was one proclamation of boundless devotion to their king and his cause. That civil war, whatever else it did, or missed doing, left a parable for Christian people. If a Stuart prince could command such measure of loyalty, what shall we say of “the Chief amongst ten thousand, the altogether lovely”?
Notice the primacy placed on loyalty, something more than mere belief and mere behavior. As important as right believing and right doing are, they must flow from right devotion. One may appear perfect in doctrine and in deed; yet be principally loyal to self and thus animated by a perverse spirit. Loyalty is the embodiment of love directed toward a particular person or thing, and as the Scriptures make clear, it is the nature of our loves that matter most.2
And notice how such loyalty is cultivated. Most certainly not by lecture or detailed explanation. Loyalties are caught like the flu, not directly taught with many words. Cavalier loyalties were embodied by the tribe and, in due course, assimilated without question by the tribe’s children. Perhaps the clearest contemporary illustration of this phenomenon is the devotion to favored sporting teams that many fathers (and an increasing number of mothers) share with their children.
How is such fanaticism cultivated? Weekends are structured around sacred rites performed on the field. Dress demonstrates loyalty. Hopes are elevated and dashed as the play unfolds. Emotions rise and fall accordingly. Cheers and outcries follow. Victories and defeats, as well as hopes for the coming week, are the subject of daily conversation. Children see, hear, share in the devotion and become fans (fanatics).
I must confess that I too am a fan with favored teams. And, I wonder, what would be the effect if our homes and schools manifest, in word and deed, the loyalty to Jesus of the most devoted fan? How would it affect the way we work, the way we talk, the way we dress, the way we celebrate, the way we grieve? And, how then would our children respond to “the Chief amongst ten thousand, the altogether lovely”?
1 Cavaliers or Royalists were those who remained loyal to the Stuart kings, Charles I and Charles II, in England’s civil war which, between 1642 and 1651, pitted them against Oliver Cromwell and the forces of Parliament.
2 Hosea 6:6, Matthew 22:36-40, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, to name but a few verses concerning that which is a continuous Biblical theme.