Respect

by mindfuldisciple

respect

If you’re like most Americans, you watch the Super Bowl for the ads as much as for the game itself. One of the best ones from last Sunday was the Dodge commercial based on a YouTube video entitled “So God Made a Farmer” voiced by Paul Harvey. For every time it’s shared, Dodge has pledged to donate a sum of money, up to $1 million, to Future Farmers of America for local hunger and education programs (you can watch and repost the video from here.

I think the ad works for two reasons. For one thing, it’s low key. In a day & age of hype, it’s simple. It’s not pushy. The connection from farming to trucks is understated but obvious.  People seem to appreciate that. Second, and far more importantly, it appeals to us because it communicates respect and appreciation, not only for farmers but for (as the ad copy at the end puts it) “the farmer in all of us.”

Not that there is farmer in all of us – this is an advertisement, after all – but all of us want to be valued and respected and appreciated. Anthropologists, psychologists, and members of other scientific disciplines have theories as to what mechanisms cause this, but none can say if it ought to be so. Why should people be loved, valued, respected and appreciated? Scripture says it is because we are created in the image of God.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. – Genesis 1.27

All people have intrinsic value precisely because of this. Societies have always and will always suffer if this is forgotten and human worth is measured solely by what they can contribute. Sin has marred that divine image – some more deeply than others – yet it remains.  It remains, even in people who are different than us, even in people who make us uncomfortable.

A few months ago, twice in one day, two very different people in two different conversations approached me and asked for my opinion about their beliefs. One was a Mormon man, the other a neo-pagan woman. I already knew what they believed (they were pretty open about that) and I strongly disagree with their beliefs. But I didn’t seek them out to tell them they were wrong; they – knowing who I am and what I stand for – wanted my input. Perhaps they were hoping for validation or approval; we didn’t get into why they asked. But they did, so I simply told them, giving them concrete reasons why I reject their belief systems. But I did so in, I think, in a Christ-honoring way. I affirmed them as much as possible. In the end no one’s mind was changed, but they walked away feeling respected, not rejected. I trust this mattered. There’s no telling what the long-term impact of those conversations will be, but that’s not mine to decide. My job is to be a faithful witness of my Lord both in what I say and in the way I say it.

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