When I hear the word Respect I automatically hear the voice of Aretha Franklin (pictured in the video above) playing in my head. As I asked other people around me I wasn’t alone. Aretha sings to a man about wanting a relationship exchange. She is willing to do all kinds of things and have a relationship but not without his respect. So where am I going with this? My question is, how do you gain respect?

When it comes down to it, everyone wants respect! Everyone has a felt need to be respected. Respect is easy to identify but hard to define. So, what is respect? A definition that I liked said: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.

As Christians, I believe that God’s Word gives some guidance in the area of respect and the practice of it. In 1 Peter 2:13-ff Peter talks about the submission to rulers and masters. Verse 16 says, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” He then follows up with an implied how do you do that in verse 17, “Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” We should respect everyone!

Building a Community of Character series is built on the belief that these pillars of Character Counts are offering nothing new or original to the world or to Iowa (Where we are located). Jesus Christ embodied these characters long before there was ever the thought of Character Counts. Jesus showed respect and was respected.

In the Gospel of John (8:1-11) there is a story about a woman who was brought before Jesus and had just been caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisee’s called her a sinner, but Jesus saw her as a child of God. The Pharisee’s would have rather seen her stoned to death; Jesus had compassion. Jesus showed respect to all people. It doesn’t mean that he consented to their way of life, but he saw all people as worthy of respect.

We live in a world of party lines: republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, poor, middle class, management, workers and many, many more. This also happens in Christianity all too frequently. If you are in another camp opposed to mine you don’t simply have a different opinion, you are wrong and often times the enemy. As an enemy we discredit, dishonor and show no respect to the other side.

As we prepare this week for the topic of RESPECT ask yourself how you might respond to some of these questions: How do you define respect? What areas do you find it difficult to respect someone? Would it be possible to show respect to someone without consenting or agreeing with them? Do you believe that our culture and communities could ever be like that?

Feel free to respond here or on Facebook. Thanks!