Summary: Lack of respect for God is epidemic. How can we change that? Part One of a three-part series focusing on teaching respect for God, others, self and leaders.
April 7, 2002
Recently the leaders of our children and youth programs met to brainstorm ways of helping the young people of our church become better examples of “salt and light” in our community. We talked about many things, and there was some exciting and very promising dialogue. One of those bits of dialogue revealed a consensus of belief among our leaders, about a common problem these days – respect (more accurately, the lack of respect for God we see in young people and even adults).
That meeting became the seed pod for this series of messages, which I have entitled, Help For the Home; Teaching Our Children Respect.
The topics we will cover during this three-part series are: Respect for God, Respect for Others, Respect for Myself, and Respect for Leaders.
[Skit: Let us begin with a picture –The setting is a church pew, just before worship]
I want to continue to paint this picture of the problem. Our skit did that quite well – and yet it only portrays the actions of people who exhibit little respect – in this instance respect for God; it does nothing to unfold the attitudes which underlie the problem. It is not enough for us to talk about what takes place – we must understand why if we are to do anything constructive about the lack of respect we see in people for the Lord.
Amazingly, the word respect, used in a manner that indicates how we are to act towards God, only appears a limited number of times in Scripture. Here is one:
At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 17:7 (KJV)
There is a New Testament companion verse that doesn’t use the word “respect” – but it paints the picture of respect in the final day:
11For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Romans 14:11 (KJV)
There are two realities we must lay down at the beginning of this series.
1.This “lack of respect” is happening and it is epidemic.
We shall begin with a definition of the word itself. My dictionary defines the word “respect” in six different ways. Only two of the ways apply in what we Americans generally consider “respect” in the treatment of people or objects.
Here are the abridged definitions of respect:
…admiration for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person…
….deference to a right, privilege, privileged position
The key to understanding all four parts of these messages is found in the first words of those definitions, admiration and deference. To admire something is far different than deferring to something;
The admirer of God is someone who stands off, checks things out, and says, Wow, He’s good! The one who defers to God comes near, bows-down and says I’ll obey!
Many people today are willing to admire (respect) God. Far fewer are willing to defer to God’s ways – to obey Him. This is the lack of respect for God we constantly see today. And, here is how God stated it in His Word:
1And God spake all these words, saying, 2I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3 (KJV)
13Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13 (KJV)
2.We need to do something about it.
You might ask, “Preacher, aren’t we doing that…this is America…don’t we teach respect in our homes, classrooms and churches?” If we ever did it, and if we are now doing it, the kids (and in some cases adults) aren’t getting it!
Last year’s inauguration speech by Governor Mike Easley illustrates the problem:
I’m asking school boards to implement a plan for character education to educate our students’ hearts as well as their minds. It is working well in many counties - we can expand character education to all counties in North Carolina….we’re going to put more discipline in our classrooms so that those students who want to learn will have every opportunity to learn. No parent should ever have to take their child out of public school because they fear for their child’s safety, and no teacher should ever be asked to tolerate disrespect….And we all like to believe that children are taught respect, responsibility, and character at home and in church - but the sad truth is; some are not. And, if they don’t learn it at the schoolhouse, the next stop is the courthouse.