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Respect: a divine perspective

From the January 2012 issue of The Christian Science Journal

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!” Those words are from a rousing song that was a titan on the pop charts in the 1960s. Aretha Franklin belted it out in a soul-deep delivery that many think remains unmatched. But musical preferences aside, I never imagined those lines could be elevated to summarize a moral and spiritual victory. For me, respect has become a new way to spell a living acknowledgment of everyone’s divine origin. 

In everyday usage, respect describes feelings such as esteem, regard, appreciation, approval, and the external behaviors they foster. It might go a bit further to include greatly valuing, admiration, affection, and deference. But with a divine perspective, it can take on far grander association—with tribute, glory, honor, veneration, reverence, and even oblation. 

Some years ago, I felt a shortfall in regard to the brotherly love that the Bible teaches is fundamental to redemption and healing. And it showed itself in a place I wanted it least: church. I was saddened that in performing cherished duties, I could find myself working with fellow members whose perceptions and priorities differed from mine in a big way. I had a mental list of culprits and causes—the who’s and the why’s—and, no big surprise, my name wasn’t on it. 

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