Honor

This was originally published as a Facebook note on November 4, 2009.

Allow me to present to you a rather bizarre scenario. You’re grocery shopping in Albertsons’ with your mom (or someone else, let’s just go with mom), listening to worship music on your ipod. Suddenly one of THOSE songs comes on. It’s “Sing My Love” by Kim Walker. You love this song, and you’re quite used to going crazy and dancing to it in church or in your room. So you are suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that you need to dance in worship right now, in the Albertsons’ aisle next to the brownie mix boxes. So you start going for it, jumping and spinning and singing at the top of your lungs. “Can’t hold my love back from you! I’ve gotta sing, sing my love!”

Your mom gasps and says insistently, “Honey, we’re in the store!” A few people start to stare, but you don’t care. You love to worship Jesus! You hit a display of cake mixes and they spill all over the floor. Worship is flowing and you can feel the presence of the Spirit! So you spin singing down the aisle – jumping on the cake mixes on your way – and make a shopping cart crash into a wheelchair. Wheelchair! You spin back around, grab the lady in the chair by the head, shake her violently, and yell, “Healing in Jesus’ name!” And then you jump like a pogo stick on your happy way through the store, still belting out, “Praise the Lord! My soul makes, makes its boast in the LORD!” And then you lapse into speaking in tongues, just as loudly.

By now the manager is in front of you and not looking terribly happy. He says something rather firm sounding, but you dance right past him and into the well muscled hands of a security guard. Hallelujah! Persecuted for Christ! The security guard and the manager both escort you, still jumping and singing and yelling in tongues, into the parking lot. As they go back inside, the security guard mutters, “I’ve never seen a Christian that psychotic before. What are they spiking the communion with?” You laugh out loud. Come ON! This is true worship, shakin’ the world!

So, back up a minute.

Freedom in worship is good. Speaking in tongues is good. Praying for healing is good. I am in total favor of all those things.

So, then, what’s wrong with this picture? Is it just me, or is there something very important that is very, very absent from what just happened?

Honor.

Sure, you were trying to honor God through your worship. But in the process, you dishonored every single person in that store. Furthermore, you gave them a very negative impression of Christians in general. (There’s letting your light shine, and then there’s peeling people’s eyelids open and beaming a flashlight directly into their corneas. Now they’re just as blind as before, and mad at you on top of that.) Did God feel honored? I’m going to go out on a limb and say he didn’t. In fact, check out these verses from Matthew:

But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone denouncing father and mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent.” (Matthew 15:3-6 MSG)

Does Jesus sound happy about this? Is he saying, “Thank you for giving me this gift and honoring me more than your parents?” No! As a matter of fact, he is quite put out. And I think it’s safe to say that this applies to more than just parents. I’d paraphrase it, “Dishonoring people in the name of honoring God isn’t honor at all.”

CONFESSION: I wrote the above Albertsons’ scenario pretty much just for fun. I know none of you would ever do such a thing. There’s a time and a place for an oblivious-to-the-world kind of insanity, and the middle of Albertsons’ is not it. (Not that we don’t bring the Kingdom into public places, but we do it with consideration for the people we’re trying to touch.)

There’s actually a more relevant story I want to share, a true story.

I was at a youth group event (Awaken several years ago), and having an amazing time. The worship was flowing, people all around me were praying from their hearts, and God was really moving and working. I felt like I could go all night. The thing is, the event was supposed to be over at 9:00 and it was already 9:15. My dad called my cell to say that he’s waiting outside and tomorrow is a school day.

I argued with my dad on the phone that God wasn’t done doing things inside, and I wanted to stay until the night was finished. This came out of a heart that wanted to be involved with God’s kingdom work, to spend every minute I could in the thick of his presence. That’s not a bad thing at all. In the church culture I was used to, clocks were pretty much there for decoration. I was used to waiting and staying and praying and singing with no real time limit. So when my dad called that he was waiting in the car, that came into conflict with my desire to stay where the Stuff was happening. What did I do? I am sorry to tell you, I made the wrong call.

I effectively refused to come outside, saying that God wasn’t done doing stuff in the event. My dad wasn’t too happy, but he let me stay a few more minutes. However, as soon as I got back inside, I realized something was different. Stuff was still happening around me, but I was outside of it. I said to God, “Ok, here I am, let’s go,” and I felt like he responded that he was a little bit ticked off at me. I said, “I don’t understand, I wanted to stay until you’re done moving,” and he basically said, “This is it. As far as you’re concerned, I’m done for tonight. You’re dad’s waiting, and you just blew him off.”

(As if that wasn’t enough, the pastor came up on stage and said, “Some of you have parents waiting, and we want to respect their time, so thanks for coming, get out of here.” Or something like that. I swear he was looking right at me.)

But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent.” (Matthew 5:5-6 MSG)

I was doing exactly what Jesus was talking about in that verse. The time that I owed my parents I was taking away from them and trying to give to God. It was basically a gift of stolen property.

I wanted to honor God, but by dishonoring the people around me, especially my parents, I wasn’t really honoring him at all.

And we want to honor people, am I right? That’s just simple love and respect. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13, where Paul says that if you have faith to move mountains and speak in tongues like the angels, but do it without love, it’s all pointless.

So there you go. Some of my thoughts on honor.

Grace and peace. And double blessings for reading such a ridiculously long note. 🙂

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