BY REV. NICHOLAS HANGES - FOUNDATION CHURCH OF SPENCER
1 Peter 2:17 (NKJV)
17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Regardless of what denomination you belong to, if you profess Jesus Christ as Lord and call yourself a believer, you are called to a lifestyle of honoring people. This is countercultural in a world that breeds hatred, strife, power and greed.
Many have become generous and loving during this time of shared crisis but as comfort and stability return, many will return to the cultural normality bred from the influences of our mainstream society. History will inevitably repeat itself. There are always issues to divide us and positions to promote. Because of our sin nature, human beings will continually invent new ways to hate each other and dishonor the very lives that God created in His image for an eternal purpose and destiny.
The Bible is very clear on how followers of Jesus Christ should act though. Christians are not to follow the flow of hatred, injustice and pride for power that the world seeks after. Our sole purpose and motive must be to love God and others as our own self. These are the greatest commandments. (Matthew 22:37)
When we look at someone who is strung out on meth (yes, we have many meth addicts in Spencer!) as sub-human and turn our backs on them in disgust, we bring dishonor to God. When we refuse to help those in need by greedily hoarding our own supplies, we bring dishonor to God. When we look in hatred at our neighbor because of their different lifestyles or political beliefs, we bring dishonor to God. When we laugh at the mugshots of people listed in “Sirens” rather than praying for them, we dishonor God.
Jesus loved and served the prostitutes, criminals, tax-collectors and sinners whose lifestyles were in total disagreement with His beliefs, position and holiness. He still honored them and loved them in an unconventional and countercultural way. The people most hated and despised got to sit and eat with the King of Kings! In turn, that kindness led them into repentance (Romans 2:4).
The only way lost people will be brought into the kingdom through the avenues of our lifestyle is via the supernatural love that flows out of us as we honor them above ourselves. This is what Jesus did for us, and we must represent that to the world. Honoring all people does not mean compromising our walks with God or giving in to sin and the influences of evil. Jesus gave us freedom from the power of evil and sin at the cross. We should never use our freedom as leverage to look down upon someone else who has not yet experienced the freedom we have in Jesus Christ.
The Christians who led my wife Megan and I to the Lord 13 years ago did so by treating us with dignity. They never treated us as the sin-stained, foul smelling drug addicts we had become. They treated us as people with hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and they honored us as the people God created us to be. How much more should we, a people redeemed and forgiven, honor all people including those the mainstream has deemed a lost cause?
I implore you as believers in Christ, develop and maintain a culture of lovingly honoring all people. You will see God’s will accomplished on earth as He uses you to love and honor people into repentance and receptivity to the message of hope found in the Gospel!