by Walter Smith
Does God expect us as Christians to give special care or reverence to church AND church facilities? What part do reverence and respect play in our relationships with spiritual leaders, the elderly, and to each other?
The Bible clearly states that we are to show reverence to God and to the things that represent His person and presence. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
We live in an age that treats everything as common. Our prevailing culture teaches that no one should be regarded as any better than oneself. That attitude is one of many contributors to the general breakdown of structure and order in society. The Bible admonishes children to honor father and mother (Eph. 6:2,3). We are also to obey the authorities who are over us (Heb. 13:17). The words honor and obey tell us how to reverence and respect God and others.
Reverence and respect are similar in meaning and are often used interchangeably. However, reverence also carries with it the idea of worship and is therefore more appropriate in our relationship with God and anything associated with Him. We do not worship human beings, no matter how important they may be, but we are to respect spiritual leaders because they are God’s representatives to us. Honoring parents and obeying authority means we should show proper respect to them. But showing respect and honor is much more than giving verbal homage to individuals. It involves acting and living in such a way that one avoids insults and injury, and instead extends commendation and value to others.
The spirit of the age prefers youth over old age. Though the elderly should appreciate the enthusiasm, vitality, and abilities of young people, youth should show appreciation for the wisdom, experience, and stability of their seniors. Peter gives wise advice, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (I Peter 5:5). Young people and senior citizens must both guard against pride.
Reverence and respect for church facilities must be taught to children if they are ever to appreciate the biblical importance of showing reverence for God. The congregation should show concern for the appearance and treatment of the church auditorium and all the supporting facilities. It is easy to see the same building week after week and not notice deterioration, wear, and tear. Visitors draw conclusions about the church’s reverence for God by the way they care for the place where He meets with His people.
The facility need not be luxurious to show reverence. A simply constructed building with furniture can be reverenced as God’s house.
Respect is not a message for everyone but ourselves. The Bible instructs, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
(Rom. 12:10). We should be respectful to all persons, whether we agree with them or not. There are enough things that we rightfully oppose in others, but each one is a soul for whom Christ died. Showing respect, even while disagreeing, is the first step toward showing a sinner the path to salvation.
Independent Baptist church worship has been characterized by informality, even spontaneity. We are not a church with formal liturgy. But informality can sometimes fall into unintended irreverence and disrespect for the things of God, His people, and His places of corporate worship. Though some humor is appropriate in certain times and settings, it should always contribute to edification, building relationships, and strengthening our relationship with God.
Behavior in church should always be respectful and reverent towards God. Those who have not been taught such reverence sometimes treat it as a place to play, run, shout, and socialize. Not only during church services and prayer time, but also when the building is nearly empty, all should respect and reverence the place where God meets with His church family. Though we firmly believe in the New Testament principle of our personal bodies being temples for the dwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, we also recognize that the facilities in which we assemble together should also be treated as special – with respect and reverence for God.
Though there are no specific Biblical cautions about appropriate dress for church services, the dress of both men and women should show at least as much respect as we would expect to show in the presence of an important government leader. On the other hand, we cannot demand the same of a sinner who walks in off the street needing to find Jesus as Savior. Maturity in the Christian walk will naturally show more reverence and respect for God’s presence. The mature saint is more concerned about the worship experience of others than about his or her own enjoyment and emotional experience. Respect for others, including the pastor, will keep the peace of God in the church body.
by Walter Smith
Original article can be found at http://theheritageherald.blogspot.com/2014/05/reverance-and-respect.html