A Culture of Honor, Part 1

In Luke 19 we read about a little man by the name of Zacchaeus.  You’ve heard this story most of your Christian life and perhaps even sang about him:

“Zacchaeus was a wee little man,

and a wee little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree,

for the Lord he wanted to see.

And when the Savior passed that way,

He looked up in the tree and said,

‘Zacchaeus, you come down.

For I’m going to your house today!

For I’m going to your house today!’”

When we planted Hope Community Church, Lori and I committed to making this church an “honoring community.”  By this I mean we wanted to talk more about what we’re “for” as Christians more than what we’re “against.” It seems that in today’s church we talk more about what’s wrong than what’s right.  I’m not talking about sin; I’m talking about a lack of honor and respect in our culture that has I’m afraid, spilled over into churches.  We understand that man’s problems trace back to the issue of sin, which originated in the Garden of Eden.  Sin has taken a devastating toll on humanity.  Everywhere we look we see the terrible effects that sin plays on the stage of human history. The church must continue to pray and act upon the fact that men are far from God and need to find new life in Christ.  Our message must remain intact.  We are all sinners who need to get hooked up with the Savior – Jesus Christ.  This is non-negotiable.

However, the church often takes a negative approach when communicating earth’s most positive message!  We need to re-think our approach to this message.  We expect sinners to act like saints when their spiritual DNA dictates otherwise.  Evangelicals have been known to assume an attack mode on sin, and inadvertently struggle with “sinners versus their sin.”  We often make those outside our churches feel condemned and sadly even disdained because they either differ with our theology or they don’t act like we do.  Hidden away behind church doors are Christians who mix their message with self-righteous animosity.  Believe me, no one attends church services to be told how bad he is and to be raked over the coals of legalistic injustice. 

Yes, people need the Lord.  Yes, they need to be saved.  Yes, hell is a real place.  Yes, continued lifestyles of sin eventually face God’s righteous judgment.  But no one needs to be disrespected or dishonored in the process. No one needs to feel insignificant or devalued.  Jesus Christ still loves us regardless of our performance in the “sin department.”  That’s the good news we call “the gospel!”

I see an acceleration of dishonor and disrespect from the White House to our house! The church of Jesus must stem this tide if we ever hope to impact our culture, communities and children for Jesus.  If a child grows up continually hearing how bad he is, how he will amount to nothing and being slapped around, he will probably grow up and make good on these self-fulfilling prophecies.  

We desperately need to create a culture of honor, for when we create a culture of honor, and practice honor toward those around us, we will see the glory of God released in our churches.  This story about Zacchaeus demonstrates that a little man, who was despised by his community, came to faith in Christ after Jesus showed him honor.

Next week, I’ll tell his story!



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