1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respectful fear of God. Honor the emperor.” (CEB)
Who am I, or more accurately, what have I become? The more divisive society gets, the harder it becomes to have a spiritual conversation about respect, politics, love or obedience. In fact, just the other day, I admitted to someone that I was not sure if I could continue this blog in light of the disrespectful and divisive dialogue in all aspects of our society today. However, I was reminded by a dear (new) friend and fellow pastor this week that there is a difference between a dictatorial style of government (kingship) and a democracy.
Rev Dan Casselberry led me to this understanding and I am paraphrasing his thoughts: There are dire consequences to disagreeing with a King versus the accountability expectation of a democracy. When we elect persons to office they have a responsibility to lead and be accountable to the people. In other words, leaders work for the people and are accountable in their leadership. There are consequences to leading without accountability and the expectation is that folks will and do rally on that point. However, voters are also accountable since, by their vote, they have selected their leaders. Voters are accountable in their voting practice and should respect those whom they have placed in the office of mayor, governor, judge, legislator or president. Accountability is very different in a democracy, but that does not lessen honor, love and respect for others…especially God, other believers and our political leaders. It seems everyone today is hungering for compassion, honor and respect.
In reflecting on these thoughts, I’m still ever concerned by the rhetoric I’m hearing. Regardless of our political leaning or the news agency we are tuned into, or even who our friends might be, there seems to be an alarming disrespect for other folk’s opinions. Have we lost our objectivity and civility? I’m aware that this is not just an American problem, nor even a Christian problem. It seems like our world society is becoming more fragile.
The author of this first letter attributed to the disciple Peter encourages us toward a positive behavior as Christians that draws folks into a better way than the society we live in. Our world is broken, but that does not mean we must also be broken. It does not matter who we are; everyone wants to be honored, respected and, yes, loved—even the emperor. However, God alone is to be feared. How “awe filled” are we in our relationship with God?
The conversation we should be having is, “Would God be pleased with the words of my mouth? Have I conformed to holy behavior as a Christian? Do my actions lead to transforming my world for the Kingdom of Christ? Are my life, my words and my actions a reflection of the saving grace of Jesus, the King of kings?” Our democratic society demands accountability, but God demands that we treat others with honor, respect and love.
I would like to close with thoughts from Luane Guyton of St. Louis, Missouri, in her devotion, “The Face of Love” which can be found at WorshipMinistryDevotions.com:
“Each Sunday we stand before our congregations and look out into a vast array of faces. There are young faces and old faces, familiar faces and unknown faces, kind faces, stern faces, energetic faces and tired faces. There are faces that radiate joy and faces that reflect pain. There are even faces that show no emotion at all. When you look at them, what do you see? Do you see what separates you or what unites you? Do you just notice a crowd or do you see individuals to love?
More importantly, have you ever wondered what Jesus sees? The answer to the last question is easy. He sees people He came to serve, people on whom He has compassion, people for whom He gave His very life. Ask God to help you see people like He does. There is no one that God doesn’t notice. There is not one He doesn’t love. There is none He isn’t willing to serve. Let the same be said of us.”
Let us pray, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, for You, O Lord, are our strength and redeemer. AMEN [Psalm 19:14]