Thursday, January 22, 2009

R E S P E C T find out what it means to me...

I grew up in a respectful household. My father respected my mother and vice versa, and my sisters and I were expected to respect our parents and our authorities. I also grew up in the sixties and seventies, an era defined by rebellion and disrespect. It is probably because of this dichotomy that I've honed in on a particular aspect of today's scripture segment, although the entire passage is compelling.

Genesis 46-50 brings to a conclusion the fascinating stories of Jacob and Joseph. When Jacob and his sons arrived in Egypt, they approached Pharaoh with tremendous respect, recognizing that his position demanded their submission and deference. When Joseph presented his sons to Jacob, the Bible says that he bowed respectfully.

Tuesday was a historic day in the United States of America. Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated, and is now our new and first African-American President. There was a peaceful transition of power in this great land as a result of the brilliant establishment of our system of government by our forefathers. Our Representative Republic was established so that freedom would be guaranteed to its inhabitants as long as we remain willing to pay the price for that freedom.

One of the great hopes of this week's events for many people, myself included, is that the racial divide that sadly still exists in some segments of our population might begin to heal. Prayerfully, one day, all citizens of the U.S. will realize that we are indeed created in God's image and that his love is color blind, as ours should be.

But that is a digression from my intended subject, which is respect. I respect President Obama and will pray for him (as well as all governing authorities) because the positions he and they hold demand it. I am not required to agree with him or any other leader for that matter, and I don't even have to support their ideology or policies. But I should and I must respect them for the positions they hold and pray for them as my country's leaders.

My sweet grandchildren, as I write this, my heart is heavy. As the celebratory events continued, I witnessed the fruit of my generation's lack of emphasis on respect for authority. In all of the excitement generated by President Obama's inauguration, it was almost easy to ignore that a two term leader passed the baton to step down from office.

During his tenure, President George W. Bush faced the unthinkable. America was targeted by terrorists who killed U.S. citizens on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of that tragedy, he labored to keep us safe from further attack. Some of his decisions were unpopular and sparked widespread criticism and controversy. But he did what leaders are required to do, he made difficult decisions based on the information he was given.

I don't intend to debate his decisions, I will simply say that I would have hated to have been in his position. And for that reason, I was deeply grieved for him yesterday when he left office to the jeers, jabs, and hatred expressed by a few celebrities and spectators who had the platform and the opportunity to express themselves with vulgarity and venom.

The Bible teaches us to respect those in authority. Romans 13:1 says: Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. NLT

The only exception to this would be if the governing authority is requiring us to do something that directly contradicts God's Word. I'm sorry that no one in Young Jeezy's or Jay Z's lives taught them the importance of respectful deference to one whose position would call for it. And if the rap song these entertainers performed for the purpose of expressing their disdain for President Bush only influences a few, it is still a few too many.

It's time for a return to the practice of respect. It's not just for Old Testament patriarchs. It's for you and me. Aretha Franklin was right. R E S P E C T-- even just a little bit--goes a long, long way. And it is Biblical. Still.

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