If you are like me, your responses to our current social, political, and even religious climate have been varied. Again, if you are like me, you haven’t always conveyed the right words or spirit in discussing and reacting to events of the past several months. I believe that brother Scott Elliot, preacher for the LaGrange Church of Christ, recently shared something that was powerful and convicting. I hope you will benefit from it like I did. He began with a Scripture citation and then offered some thoughts. Please take time to read, consider, and act. I love you all!
– Wayne Jones
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone.” (1 Peter 2:16-17)
One of the most disturbing recent trends in our culture is a total lack of respect for others. Sometimes, this comes from a place of selfishness. When we become so focused on ourselves or our rights, we don’t care who we disgrace in the pursuit of our individualistic desires. Sometimes, it comes from a hatred of others. When we fail to love our enemies, disrespect is an easy move as we seek to destroy the people we hate. The problem is that these behaviors and the reasons behind them are not Christian.
Over the last several months, I have seen people scream at random strangers who were trying to eat a meal at a restaurant. I have seen people brazenly ignore the guidelines businesses have posted for shopping in their stores. I have seen people shout at politicians in airports and on airplanes. I have seen protestors show up at private residents with the intent of making life miserable for the people inside. I have seen looting and the destruction of property. I have seen people disrespect places of worship by disregarding the protocol church leaders have put in place. This is not a left or right problem. It is a problem of disrespect.
This behavior has been shocking to me because I was raised to respect others. If I disagree with someone, I would never consider shouting at them in public. If I cannot follow the guidelines a store posts, then I won’t go in that store. To do otherwise is a reflection of my character. I am not making someone else look foolish. I am making myself look foolish.
As Christians, we are required to consider others. We cannot live from a place of selfishness. If I only seek my interests, then I will lose my life, not save it. (Luke 17:33) We are also required to love our enemies and do good to them. Our goal is not to see our enemies destroyed. It is to see them saved. If we only love those who love us, then we are no different than anyone else. (Matt. 5:46-47)
We are to honor everyone whether they deserve it or not. We do not do this because of what they have done, but because of who they have the potential of becoming. Every person is created in the image of God. We are to respect this. We are to understand that every person has something of God inside of them. They are not going to grow in their godliness if we act ungodly. Ungodliness does not produce godliness. Only godliness produces godliness.
As a Christian, I have to pay attention to my words and my actions. I do not want to disrespect or dishonor anyone. I do not want to demonize others with my words. I cannot think only of myself. I have to live into a better reality. I have to be a light in a dark world. I do this because I want my children to inherit a better world, a world where people respect one another. I do this because I am a Christian.