As the voting season here in Indiana has officially begun, it raises the question what has happened to respect? Respect is an understanding that someone or something is important or serious and deserves to be treated in an appropriate way. A synonym for the word would be consideration.
Respect is a word I ponder often as I listen to the news, observe behaviors in stores, see timeline postings on Facebook, and hear conversations, or encounter others in meetings, etc. As always I go back to my source of how I should live my life by looking at the life of Jesus and his interactions with people; as well as, the stories he tells. I could name many, but I am usually drawn to the one about the young rich man who asks about what it takes to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus sites the first and second commandments, and when the young man says I do those things what else must I do. Jesus replies sell all and follow me. (I know this is a loose accounting but you get the drift.) The point is that when the young man walks away because he realizes he has great wealth, Jesus does not chase him down, beat him over the head, or call him a dumb idiot. He doesn’t say well if you don’t agree with me get out of here. In like manner the young man didn’t look at Jesus like he was crazy and yell at him for being so stupid to think he should or would give it all up.
What is says is the young man walked away. He knew he didn’t want to do it, the cost was too high. Jesus’ response was sadness because he knew the man had much. Jesus “knew” what he was asking. Jesus “knew” he was asking a lot. Jesus “knew” the young man was not ready; he was not at that point in his life. Would he ever be? We don’t know that; but what I do know is the man would think about the encounter. The man would remember the words of Jesus, and would ponder them.
What I learn from this example are several things. First, how we treat another is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Jesus “knew” who he was. He was sent to fulfill the law, not abolish it. He was sent to demonstrate the law is ineffective if it is not tempered with love, mercy, and kindness. Who and whose are we in this world today? Do we reflect that in our encounters with others?
Second, we are called to celebrate our similarities and respect our differences. Papa God isn’t calling us to be robots or clones. He made each one of us uniquely special. There is no other us in this world. Even twins have their differences, but they also have a close bond with one another. We are all Papa God’s children, called to relationship with Him and to invite others into that relationship. We are simply to plant; Papa God waters, and grows us from the inside out. When we respect the opinions of others (even when they seem far fetched) we are still able to disagree and respect them as created by Papa God.
Third, when we lose sight of either of these we become lost. Papa God is creator of all! Nothing was created without Him. He pursues His people even when they stray and deny Him. He is always and ever will be creating, because that is what love does. Love creates. Jesus is our savior and redeemer. God “knew” this world he created would be screwed up by his own creation, but that didn’t mean he stopped creating. He already “knew” what it would take to bring his children home.
We may often feel powerless, disrespected, and sure this world is on its way to “hell in a hand basket”, but I choose to believe that with God “All things are possible.” That gives me what I need to first, see myself as a beloved child of God, two celebrate and even at times embrace those I encounter who are different or disagree with me, and three remember to lovingly plant the seed of Papa God’s love. Jesus did the rest.
Leanne the Urban Hermit