Aretha sang, “Find out what respect means to me”. Respect is a simple word. It is one which causes people to get into fights, feel good, or get loud. Respect is something that is intangible and yet is required.
Today I interacted on a blog where some people were critiquing a friend’s book.
They had not read the book.
Yet, they trashed the book. They trashed him. They challenged his character. It was a personal attack.
They claim to be Christians.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been teaching a group of people about how to engage with those who don’t follow Jesus. We began with “respect.” Why? Because this is the place that Jesus starts. This is the place that Paul starts. They were respecters of people.
Consider Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman in John 4.
He respected her. He did not pull any punches but he dealt with her in love and did not demean her.
Respect is a powerful form of love and it opens many doors that might not otherwise open. It is foundational for relationship.
If the Church is going to be what it’s called to be it has to respect those who are far from God. This means that to caricature those who disagree with you is out. This means that you must take time to learn and actually hear what these people are saying.
Back to my friend, he has a dynamic to atheists at a large state university. He has written a fiction novel that uses a genre that is attractive to those whom God has placed on his heart. I am probably not going to read the book, because it’s simply not a genre that I enjoy. But, I am quite certain that many people who are far from God will and as they do they will come face to face with the story and message of Jesus.
Will that message look like the Four Spiritual Laws? Nope. But it will challenge the mind and will of those who read it.
Interestingly, the Christians who have displayed such disrespect are probably never going to have the hearing that a man who has written something they detest will.