RESPECT! Where have you gone?

Read:  Philippians 2:1-11

It seems as if respect is no longer an important virtue in our country.  Where has the respect gone for senior citizens, parents, teachers, leaders, and others?  Where has the respect gone for those in positions of authority?  Where has the respect gone for our laws, for obedience, for common decency?  Where has the respect gone for those who are different than us?  Most importantly, where has the respect gone for God and for the life examples of Jesus?

Last Sunday golfing legend Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87.  When most younger golfers were interviewed about his life and the impact he left on the people and the game of golf they almost always referred to him as Mr. Palmer.  It wasn’t Arnold, Arnie, or any other name.  It was Mr. Palmer out of their respect for him.  And for most of them it was that way long before he passed away.

I recently read a story about pastor and evangelist Billy Graham.  When he was in the prime of his ministry holding services in some of the largest stadiums in the country he met an unknown seminary student named Gordon MacDonald.  As Mr. Graham was introduced to Gordon his eyes fixed on him, he extended his hand to him, and he said, “Mr. MacDonald, it’s an honor to meet you.”  Mr. MacDonald would later say, “Mr. Graham addressed me as if I were a peer or someone “superior” to him, but here I was just a scrawny first year seminary student.”

Those two stories show how respect is a two way street.  We need to respect others in the way that we would like to be respected.  If we would begin to live with that kind of respect we would see many of the current problems in our country begin to fix themselves.  In Philippians 2 Paul uses the example of Jesus to give us guidance on this.  He says, “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

In 1 Peter 2:17 Peter says, “Show proper respect to everyone.”  The list could go on.  Many other Bible passages refer to the importance of loving our neighbors, respecting others, and being obedient to God and those whom God has put in authority over us, as long as they are not violating the will of God themselves.  Because of sin in our world these ideals will always be challenged, ignored, and even disrespected.  However, Jesus has provided the answer for that problem as well.

We need to turn to Christ with repentant hearts for the times that sin has caused us to disrespect others, mistreat others, and demand from others what we ourselves are not willing to give.  Jesus will forgive us and help us see a better way.  While we may not expect this from the larger culture, we as Christians can give evidence to how it can work and how it can help us to live together in peace and harmony.  I end this week with the words of the apostle Paul describing how Jesus showed us the way….

Make it Personal:  “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant….”  Philippians 2:5-7

Have a great week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church