I was recently in the church parking lot with Caleb (who’s now 22) in the passenger’s seat, and needed to ask a question of Art Bowen who was walking past on Caleb’s side. I rolled down his window, and said to Caleb, “Get Mr. Bowen’s attention for me.” When Caleb paused I said, “Just say ‘hey Art,’” to which Caleb replied, “I can’t do that. He’s Mr. Bowen.” I imagine many of us recall that difficult transition to adulthood where the elders we respect become fellow adults. In fact, there are still people at my home church who are Mr. or Mrs. [last name] to me.
Respect, however, is increasingly lacking in our society, and I’m not talking about the ways that norms evolve or people are just sometimes thoughtless. This is different. While in some ways the current reality has brought of the best of people, in other ways it has brought out the worst. Too often we seem to have lost our sense of a common humanity, remembering that each person is a precious child of God. We can differ, we can disagree, and still respect one another. Not only can we, we must. It’s a Biblical imperative that we honor and care for one another.
“Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.” –Romans 12:9-17 (CEB)
Peace for the journey,