An unfortunate quality of humanity is that we too often tend to be fickle. Fickle means to change frequently in regards to one’s loyalties, interests or affections. You can see this sort of thing with the public’s interest in pop musicians, movie stars, and clothing fashions. One year the public may be listening to the beats of one particular rapper spitting out his rhymes, or fawning over the beauty of one particular blonde starlet, or wearing skinny jeans to church. The next year, that same public is listening to banjos, worshiping the brunette curls of the next diva, and wearing retro-parachute pants and flip flops to church.
When it comes to life’s entertainment trivialities, fickleness isn’t that big of a deal. But when it comes to those things deserving of loyalty, fickleness becomes dangerously problematic. Imagine if husbands quit marriage when the next fine thing walks by. Imagine if mothers gave up parental affections when the newness wore off of their children. The world would be a greater hell than it already is. In fact, those places where the world is hell, are very often marked by people who have either misplaced their loyalty, or have allowed a fickleness to reign supreme in the ordering of their lives.
Believe it or not, this evil can be reframed in a positive light. Fickleness allows us to observe the quality of our loyalties. Consider the triumphal entry of Jesus on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11). As Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey, crowds of people throw their cloaks and palm branches on the ground before him as he rides in, all the while shouting words of adoration and praise, and affirming his royalty by associating him with David, and recognizing him as a prophet. But just a few days later, when Jesus stands trial before Pontius Pilate, the crowds (likely populated by some of the same people from just days before), call for Jesus to be crucified, and for a notorious prisoner, Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus.
Any people who had changed their minds in that few days were never really devoted to Jesus to begin with, and their honoring of his lordship was false. True loyalty is, by definition, devoid of fickleness. True loyalty is tried and proven and even defined by hardship. It does not go with the flow. It may bend, but it doesn’t break. The truer it is, the more unchanging it is.
The true followers of Jesus were not fickle – even as they were martyred, they remained steadfast and faithful.