A few months ago we got a cheap cellphone to use at our house. (we have no landline) Essentially, it was just for the kids to call 911 if the house was burning down, and we rarely planned on using it. But after a few days we started to get calls on the phone. We never picked up but the callers left messages. Then the texts started to come. They were pretty innocuous at first, but we were getting charged 10 cents for each one, so I texted back. Things like, “this is not who you think it is” & “you have reached the wrong number”.
Apparently that was the wrong tactic. I proceeded to get a scathing response.
“We know who you are you piece of $#%@! If you think you can run away from all your responsibilities here in West Virginia you are out of your mind! You are a no good #$%&* #$%@ @*&#%! You should be ashamed of what you did. I hope the church never forgives you.”
It was a little unsettling.
Now let the record show that I have never done anything bad in West Virginia (except possibly speed through it). At first my internal reaction looked something like this…
After I calmed down I was tempted to at least send a long text explaining how that they may be missing the heart of the gospel (“I hope the church never forgives you” seemed a tad dysfunctional)
But I didn’t. Because the issue was clear. The only reason this person felt the freedom to go off on me is that…
THEY DIDN’T REALIZE WHO THEY WERE TALKING TO.
They had no idea they were talking to a middle-aged father of 4 in Columbus with only one hip.
In fact, once they realized who they were talking to, the texts sheepishly stopped.
I’ve been writing about this verse:
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. — Romans 12:10 ESV
We are called to HONOR our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but for some reason this doesn’t seem to be our strong suit in this culture. Personally I think many of us have the same problem as my texting friend. Somewhere along the way we have lost touch with WHO WE ARE TALKING TO.
What do I mean by that? I believe that somewhere along the line, we become deceived.
We start to view people the wrong way. We start to see them as…
- that arrogant church or ministry leader
- those people that gossip about us & our ministry
- that person who complains about something new every week
- the “haters”
- that annoying person at our church who talks a lot and has no concept of personal space
- that blogger who posts things critiquing our ministry system….or our theological bent
- that bunch of people WHO DON’T HONOR US
And we forget what God says is true about them in His word. What does He say?
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
ANYONE who is “IN CHRIST”. Anyone who has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ…..we belong to each another. We are one in Christ. And we are called to HONOR ALL of them.
One commentator rephrases Romans 12:10 as “leading the way in showing the honor that is due.”
So why are these people worth respect and honor? why is it “due”?
Because of their personalities? their performance? their likeability? their “rightness”?
I’ve been in the church long enough to know it CAN’T be those things. The GOSPEL teaches us that it ISN’T because of those things.
It’s because of WHO THEY ARE IN CHRIST.
Many of us have been so encouraged by reflecting on what the Bible says about OUR identity in Christ. Throughout history Christians who find joy and hope in meditating on passages such as these…(I stole this list from Storyline)
The key to stepping into honor is to just change the title of this list to “Their Identity in Jesus”. This is the identity of every brother and sister who you have been tempted to dishonor. Or ignore. Or leave unloved.
It’s time to start remembering who we are talking to! It changes everything.