I witnessed a pretty amazing exchange yesterday. Sometimes things that appear to be headed in the wrong direction are brought under control with a word. Situations that seem confrontational can give way to exchange which occurs pointing towards the connection of Eternity in the hearts of men.
The pastor was in the middle of his sermon when an apparently homeless man made his way into the church and half way down the aisle. There was a confrontation inherent in his walking towards the front of the sanctuary as there have been too many reports of tragic situations unfolding in similar settings. The pastor asked, “can I help you?” The response was something incoherent and the man moved into a seat.
The sermon continued and a few minutes later the man shouted out something. The pastor stopped and addressed him, “I’m speaking and you’re not. You are welcome to stay, but if you stay, you’ll have to do so with honor.”
You could literally feel the shift. The man was quiet and the room was different. It went from tense to orderly. The exercise of legitimate authority and call for honor effectively called out honor from the man whose intentions (and mental health) were questionable. A while later, the man stood and saluted the pastor, leaving peacefully. The pastor returned his salute and wished him well.
The man turned out to be a Vietnam veteran who was not mentally stable. As a soldier, the Eternal qualities of authority and honor were instilled into the character of this man. Years later, the honor which was instilled in that man made its way past the torment which engulfed him to bring him under submission to authority. The exchange of salutes, a mutual sign of respect, solidified the connection of Truth between the hearts of men.
Authority and honor are meant to be part of the way we address each other. All too often, our individual desires and rebellious spirits defeat our willingness to come under authority. The honor meant to benefit us individually and collectively is secondary in our culture of “me first.” Culturally, we also lack the maturity of leadership to stand in legitimate authority in the way that my pastor did.
Our hope is in One who submits to the Father. His honor is on display through His submission. His invitation is simple; “follow me.”