Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Most of us are busy; there are so many things that cry out for our attention. But are we too busy to show respect, especially to God?
Most of you wouldn’t show up late to work, or at least not often, and certainly not with an excuse that you thought your boss would believe was acceptable. Unless you were looking to retire, you wouldn’t miss work without notifying them just to have a fun, relaxing day.
Most Christians I know try to obey the law. They try to stay within, or at least close to, the speed limit (or was that a speed suggestion?). They pay their taxes, and they don’t try to sneak out of Wal-Mart without paying for the things they have in their bags.
Lastly, most Christians actually expect their children to obey them. They tell them what the rules are, and then they ask them to obey what they have told them.
All of these things have to do with the issue of respect. You either respect your employer and the parameters they have set for your employment, or you disrespect them. You either respect the laws of the land, or you disrespect them. Just because you have not been caught breaking the law does not qualify as respect.
Your children either show you respect by honoring your rules, or they disrespect you by their overtly breaking them, or possibly by being complacent about your rules so as to follow them only when it suits them.
When it comes to the Christian, I have pointed out in the above scenarios that many of you try to give respect, or at least understand the need for respect in relationships. My concern is often that show of respect is not given to God. How do I come to that conclusion?
Since I have limited space, I will focus on just one area. Church attendance is down in almost every area measured in the Christian community. People say they believe in and love Christ, but they often fail to show their love and respect in failing to attend worship with other believers on a regular basis.
I am not talking about those who miss worship because they are out of town on vacation or some family issue. Nor am I talking about those who have to work. Clearly you must take care of your family and the things that come up.
But there are an increasing number within our society who claim to be Christians that find any sport activity, or odd job around the house, or simply just a desire to relax on Sunday, to be a valid reason to ignore the examples and mandates in the Bible regarding gathering together with other believers. They would argue that attending worship has nothing to do with their salvation, which comes about by faith and not by works, so they clearly don’t have to attend worship.
Certainly salvation is by faith in Christ alone. But Christ is not only your Savior; He is also Lord, and as your Lord He is to be respected and obeyed.
If you look at the Word of God, He tells you in Hebrews 10:25 that you are not to forsake the gathering together with other believers, as had become the habit of some, even in the early apostolic days. In addition, if you look in the Book of Acts, you find a constant gathering of believers to worship God, and to learn from His Word. Throughout the entire Bible you find that corporate worship is one way that we are to show honor and respect for God.
I imagine some of you are thinking to yourself that I am simply a legalist. No, I am not. Legalism is what people do in an effort to earn favor with God. The most extreme form of legalism believes that you must earn your salvation, but many within the Christian community believe that they must work to be worthy to receive any blessings from God. Neither of these views are correct.
God is a loving Father. He has given you the gift of eternal life because He delights to bless those who trust Him and put their faith in Him. But He is a Righteous and Holy God who deserves that you and I respect Him.
He has told us what He expects and requires from each of us, not because He was looking to fill up the pages of Scripture, but because He actually expects us to strive to be obedient children.
The vast majority who claim to be Christians only go to church occasionally, if at all. In fact less than 25 percent of Christians gather with others for worship less than three times in two months. That in no way shows respect for God and His Word. Again, I am speaking of respect for God, not checking off a box or trying to earn something.
Respect across the board in our nation is at an all time low. I would submit that if you want to see respect truly grow in your life, that you begin with your respect for God. When you increase your respect for God in how you treat Him, you will find respect increases in all the other areas of your life.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.