Unity and Honor

24 06 2013

Jesus’ prayer for his followers was that they would be one so the world would know the truth of God’s love (see John 17:20-23). Unity in the Church was of utmost importance to Jesus. That’s why at Quest we believe unity is worth fighting for.

Unity is easy when everyone agrees and when everyone gets along. However, unity is oftentimes elusive in the church especially in the midst of vast diversity, difference, and even conflict. Therefore, the way we treat one another when we disagree becomes a pivotal factor in determining whether unity within the body will be preserved. This Sunday at Quest I shared a biblical principle which I believe, if we all learn to practice, will not only preserve unity in the midst of conflict, but will lessen the intensity of conflict before it even arises. That principle? Honor.

When you honor someone you are speaking heaven’s language – you’re treating that person with respect and giving them value. You’re elevating them – lifting them up. Dishonor conversely is our culture’s language. When you dishonor someone you are devaluing them. You’re lowering them in an attempt to raise yourself up. In short, Honor = Love + Humility.

A pastor friend of mine summarizes the Bible’s teaching on this subject calling it 360° honor. 360° honor is all encompassing.

  • It begins with honoring God – humbling yourself to follow his ways rather than your own
  • It also includes honoring those above you – your parents, authorities, elected officials, church leaders, etc.
  • 360° honor also requires honoring those beside you – your spouse, coworkers, brothers and sisters in Christ, etc.
  • Finally, 360° honor involves honoring those you perceive to be below you – the less skilled, your subordinates, the least, last and lost.

If you dishonor those above you, beside you or below you, you ultimately dishonor God.

Of course the question always comes up, “What about the person who is dishonorable? Should I honor them too? What if they’re clearly wrong or they disobey and dishonor God?” David gives us a compelling example of honoring the dishonorable in both 1 Samuel 24 and 26 when he refuses to kill King Saul. I believe it is God’s way to honor even the dishonorable. Of course honoring someone does not mean agreeing or submitting to abuse or allowing yourself to be victimized, but rather giving respect, dignity and value to people in the midst of disagreement.

And yet oftentimes we will choose the dishonorable route. We’re tempted to:

  • Slander and gossip – tear people down behind their back
  • Use sarcasm or “snark” as a passive aggressive attack
  • Hold onto an overly critical spirit – second guessing other’s actions and regularly thinking “how you would do things differently if you were in charge.”

These actions are dishonorable and they undermine the unity of the church and therefore the mission Jesus gave us.

The truth is, we’re all dishonorable people. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ – the honorable one who out of love humbled himself unto death in order to lift up the dishonorable, you and me. And when we receive the grace Jesus offers, he not only washes us clean of dishonor, he gives us the power of his Spirit to reflect his honor through our lives. And to the extent that we do, the Church will be one, and the world will know of God’s love and want the Jesus we profess.

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