This week I found myself contemplating ideas such as worship and respect. It started Thursday night, when a friend invited me to attend a Bryan Adams concert. She had a spare ticket; I only needed to be asked once. We had seats on the floor, about two-thirds of the way back, and the dance space was limited. Deanna and I bopped in place for the first part of the concert, banging elbows with those beside us, but having ourselves a great time, nonetheless. Bryan and his band played for 2 1/2 hours straight with no opening act and no intermission. The band occasionally took breaks and Bryan would do an acoustic number, but the show proceeded non-stop. It was impressive. The band was tight, Bryan’s vocals were on, and the crowd was into the show. So, into the show, actually, that I couldn’t help but compare the screams and catcalls and the raised hands, the dancing, the singing, smiling, laughing riotous time with the worship services of church. “Bryan! Bryan!” screamed a fan. I thought about the respect akin to worship which we were all giving to this man, who, although definitely skilled, was merely part of creation, and his talent, though honed, was nothing more than an aspect of creation. “How odd,” I thought, “That we humans greet the Creator of that talent in such a subdued capacity while losing ourselves in overt displays of grovelling gratitude to a mere man. With how much less enthusiasm and awe do we worship the Creator? And how completely backwards is that!” It was a good concert. Bryan Adams and his band put on a good show. Their talent is worthy of respect. They pale in comparison to almighty God.
Later in the week while at work, I encountered another situation in which respect was at issue. During the lunch rush at our restaurant, two long-haired, shaggy looking men sat in my section. Both were extremely polite to me, but the brass knuckles they wore on their fingers and the leather Hells Angels coats they wore on their backs raised this caution inside me. There is a form of respect driven of knowledge, and fear, and I felt it at that moment. That is the type of respect gang affiliation garners Then, standing at their table, looking down on them as I waited for their order, it was as if God showed me how he saw these two men. “They are two of my children whom I also love.” What a perspective. It seems likely that neither of these men are well-behaved by societal or Biblical standards. Tales of the willingness of the Hells Angels to perpetrate violence against those who get in the way of their will abound in abundance. Regardless of the truth of these tales, the reputation fostered serves them well. The Hells Angels, while feared rather than loved, are nonetheless respected by most. It is the form of respect reserved for thoughts of self-preservation. Would you willingly cross a gang member? Probably not. And yet, that is not how God sees them, nor why he would have me treat them with respect. He created these people. Part of his heart loves them, just as he loves me. No man is so talented that he deserves greater respect than the God who built that talent, and no man is so depraved and locked into the violence of his soul that God can not look at him and see that this man was created in the image of God to be a reflection of God and to experience the love of God. Worship is to be reserved for the one true God. True respect is found through Him.