In our current culture: Respect needs to be hard earned. And even it is earned; it can be lost in a very easy way. Respect to the authority: something that is taken for grant in the previous generations becomes a question. People start to ask why on this fundamental value. Either the recent clashes between the police force and public or the case that public servant does not follow decision by the court (Ms. Kim in Kentucky) reveal a crisis in the society. Some may worry that this kind of disrespect is shaking the foundation of our society.
On one hand, I believe it is indeed a crisis. On the other hand, there is a reason in each of these cases. We hear and see those who are being suppressed by the authority. These people speak out with horrible stories or video clip, telling us about the reality of the corruption of the powerful.
So we are facing with this question: can we blindly respect just because this person is in position? (the police or the judge)
For example, police force. I believe the law enforcement agents need to respect the law themselves. If they do not, they lose creditability. They need to be kept accountable. Are we (all citizens) the same? No. Are we asking for a high standard of respect of certain individual? Yes. Because they are law enforcement agent, they have been given “power” that common citizens do not have. Therefore, they have to show a higher commitment to the law and procedure.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” James 3:1
In the same way, not all receive power to maintain justice. But those who receive power will be judged more strictly.
What about the Church? A troubling situation Church find herself in today is even she supposes to be the light of the world (in a place of apparent leadership to the society), she really lacks true authority. People remember all the scandals of the Church more than the good things Church has done (been doing). People do not easily give their respect to an institution and Church as an institution has no exception.
We do need to be an example. What we do, people will see.
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17)
The first chapter of the book of Genesis tells us God creates the world in an orderly fashion. After the day of creation, God proclaimed it as “Good”. While we respect God, we also respect His creation order. On the same basis, the respect we give to the system is the respect we give to the people who worked hard and even gave their lives to build up this system.
A teacher once says: when our children go to school, they learn “respect”. They learn to respect school, respect teacher and respect his/her fellow classmates. And they learn to respect learning itself. Without that, our education is a failure.
“Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded” (Proverbs 13:13)
I agree. “Respect” is fundamental to our relationship. We come to Church to learn to respect God. The Ten Commandments teaches us to honor our parents. It is also a kind of respect. While we respect God, we also respect the Church Structure and leadership that God ordains. Finally we learn how to respect brothers and sisters no matter what background they are, what color they are and what socio-economic status they have. Because if we do not know how to respect the visible brothers and sisters, how can we say we respect the invisible God.