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Respect


Woman looking upwards to the light
Seeing the Unseen, Acrylic, Sara Joseph, SOLD

Who, and what, do you respect, value or esteem?

 

"You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"  

1 Peter 2:9

 

Christians are a distinctly different spiritual being, regardless of ethnicity or social background. Snatched out of a futile existence into a meaningful relationship with God through Jesus, we're assigned to declare His wonders to a hopeless world.


Without a Biblical filter, ideas on true worth are formed by mere observation. The visibly wealthy, powerful, beautiful, athletic or gifted suck us into the vortex of their influence by proclaiming their worth. And why not? Their lives are marked by favor, their opinions heeded and esteemed. They embody the epitome of human achievement.


Few stop to consider that without God, their worldly advantage amounts to little. When the eternal is dismissed and the temporal lauded, we're treading dangerous waters, unaware of the tide that will one day sweep us into eternity, where we'll face the One, who will demand accountability for our lives.

There is no gift, except that God gifted it, no talent that did not come from His hand, no strength nor skill that was not divinely assigned for His purposes.


Jesus demonstrated that all humans, created in the image of God, deserve our respect, not for their achievements, but for who they are.


Serve “the least”, He commanded, as if we were serving Him. Those overlooked by society were as important to Him as those we routinely consider great. The marginalized, forgotten, unlovely, slow or poor were to be respected, if we honored Him.


How about the rich, powerful and celebrated? How were they to be treated?

Jesus responded to them, not according to outward appearances, but by what He perceived of their hearts. Wealthy Zacchaeus was welcomed, while the influential Pharisees were sternly rebuked for their hypocrisy!


He never coerced anyone into belief, neither does the Father. Autonomy is a gift. Each person, regardless of their position in life can choose Him or walk away— a choice that is not without serious consequence.


Until Israel demanded a king, they had none. God was their king. When they clamored to be like nations around them, He gave them kings—fallible human beings, who were no match for the wisdom with which He once led them. Kings were to be regarded as mere mortals delegated by Him with responsibility to rule wisely. Such thinking was in striking contrast to the kingdoms around Israel, where kings reigned as gods.


God also insisted on a priestly order that ministered independently of the king. Both the office of the king and priests were to be distinct and separate—a reminder that He was the supreme authority. Kings and priests were accountable to Him.


No mortal was to ever take His place.


A people with such a perspective on society, with these hierarchies of power and influence, will regard human beings as extremely valuable, yet not so valuable that they are worthy of worship. God alone holds that place in our hearts.


Those with the capacity to understand this hierarchy of authority and worth possess the potential to be powerful, independent influencers.


As Christian artists, we can determine not to be led by popular opinion, trends, financial gain, or even the potential for fame.


Instead, let's crave a

"Well done!" from Jesus, more than concerning ourselves with the opinions of those we journey with.


We are children of the King of Kings, we answer to Him alone.


If our work languishes in obscurity for a season, there's no reason for concern. Patience! Jesus sees our labors. When undertaken in faith, He will commend and reward in His way and in His time. His rewards have worth that exceed human understanding.


Holding fast to these truths will make us people, who cannot be cowed by fear, distracted by temptations, wowed by money or prestige.


We respond only to the voice of our Lord in willing obedience.

If we truly lived like this, we would be a rare and unusual breed.


Our immunity to trends, popular fads and the opinions of others would leave us open to innovate and be truly creative.

Others would notice, not necessarily because we were exceptional in what is popularly valued, but because humanity is hungry for this sort of liberty. What joy to be free from the need to impress anyone!


Jesus, whose favor we seek, is easy to please. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Faithfulness is of infinite value to Him. Demonstrating the grit that is indicative of independent spirits, we can live free and impervious to human coercion of any sort.


Jesus demonstrated this kind of independence when He faced Pilate. Here was a man who had enviable power and authority, as demonstrated by his words.

 
The Pontius Pilate pavement detail from Caesarea.
(Po)ntius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea, (erected) a building dedicated to the (emperor) Tiberius. My photo from Caesarea.

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”


Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." John 19:11

 

Complete respect for Pilate and for God, the Father, was reflected in this simple statement of fact. Jesus did not denigrate Pilate or lord over him His own divine authority.


He simply stated what He knew to be true—He answered to a higher power, as do we.


There is no room then for fear, intimidation or insecurity, is there?


There was not even a trace of fear in His conversation with Pilate. That was before the cross where He won the last battle over death for us! After such a definitive victory, we truly ought to be an exceptional race of humans—Christians, who are fearless and fiercely independent, yet quickly responsive to the commands of our Lord, Jesus.

That is irresistible liberty, freeing us to be who we were created to be.

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