How We Treat Each Other

The movie Amazing Grace tells the story of the abolition of slavery.  This was the mission of William Wilberforce a Member of Parliment.  When he became a Christian, he adopted two missions.  What was the other? The reformation of manners.  He considered each of these goals equally important to the future of his country.  In those days (late 18th and early 19th century), the people were profane.  They treated each other very poorly.  There was little courtesy and the veneer of civility in Britain had worn thin.  Wilberforce recognized that to make for a good people, their attitudes toward each other needed to change.

It has been said that today we need a reformation of manners.  The cover story of an edition of USA Today was titled: Excuse Me, But…Whatever Happened to Manners? The article cited the growing rudeness, and even harshness of American life and bemoaned the way we treat one another.  One study noted that 89% of Americans think civility is a serious problem.  This study was done more than a decade ago and most think matters have only gotten worse.  So why is this important?  Why did Wilberforce consider civility so important?  Why should we? Community depends on respect.  The neglect of civility leads to a collapse of community.  The way we treat each other betrays the way we think of each other.

When we look at Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we are shocked at the way he treated people.  He showed respect for people despite how they treated him.  He recognized and respected authority even though he was a much higher authority.  He did so even when he was not treated fairly.  He did this all the way to the cross.  In this he set the example for us.  Why did he do it?  First, people, even at their worst, bear the image of God. They have intrinsic value that we cannot begin to measure.  When we show disrespect to people we are disrespecting the God who created them. Second, he loved people.  He treated people not as they deserved but based on what his death would enable them to become.  He saw beyond the sin of the adulterous woman and showed her respect.  He saw beyond the confusion of he demoniac and treated him with respect.  He could see beyond the foolishness of the disciples, and he treated them with respect.  When people mocked him and spat upon him and rejected him, he treated them with grace and courtesy.   He could do this because he had come to die for them.

Now applying this is the tough part.  It means we have to show respect to people who have hurt us, to people very different from us, and to people who do not respect us.  All for Christ’s sake.  We do this because this is the way the community of Christ comes and grows.  What would happen in Miami, our city, if we people began to show each other respect?  Wilberforce’s movement brought an end to slavery in Britain.  His mission to reform manners never reach a conclusion.  It remains to this day, and you are part of it.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on January 19, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    So true.

    Reply

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