Fear leads to control and control to more fear. I have been thinking a lot about how we relate to and are in community with each other. Community can be amazing and fulfilling, but sometimes can be a bit messy; at least that has been my experience. One thing that has become a reoccurring theme for me is a concept called a Culture of Honor. I first heard this phrase from a pastor named Danny Silk and there were a few things he said that stood out to me.
• Where there is no honor, everyone is afraid
• When people are afraid they want to control
• Fear creates control in relationships
• Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)
• “God is love,” (1 John 4:8)
• “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
When I heard these things, something resonated in me. Something shifted. I thought of times with my children where I had not responded well to something that they had done wrong. I started to see how my responses created an environment of fear in them, and it made them control and withhold information from me. Maybe I played a role in the atmosphere of our home. Maybe their responses to me had more to do with the culture I had created and less to do with their “stuff.”
Then I started to think of times in my life where I wanted to control specific things, projects, or pieces of information, and I began to see a common thread. At the root of many of the things I wanted to control was fear. I saw fears like the fear of rejection, fear of failure, or the fear of losing something or some relationship. This is when I thought: maybe there is something to this culture of honor. Maybe I needed a strong dose of God’s love in my relationships.
This made me read more scripture and look at my relationships.1 Peter 2:17 says to honor all people, not just the people that deserve to be honored. Not just the people that have earned my respect or honor, but to honor ALL people. This epistle is written to the churches in Asia Minor who were suffering from religious persecution and they were being told to respect even those who persecute them! And then Colossians 3:12-17 just wrecked me.
12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
So often I had heard verse 17 alone and taken it’s meaning as a message telling us to do everything for God. This time I saw this verse in the context of relationships. It clearly says that I am to treat everyone, whether I agree with them or not, in the name of Jesus, or in the character of Jesus.
This message became the definition of a Culture of Honor for me. It has caused me to slow my responses and thoughts about others. To choose to put my heart in a place of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love when I am in relationship with anyone and everyone. I no longer have the right to treat someone with disrespect when I am “justifiably” upset with how they are responding or treating me.
I have seen this shift in me affect my relationships and it has transformed fear and control to freedom and trust in these relationships. By no means do I have this mastered (just ask my lovely wife), but in this process I am changing and stepping more fully into the man that God designed me to be. I am learning to live into and create a Culture of Honor wherever I can. I have learned how to better tell the truth in love because I am choosing to put on love.
As we step into this season of Easter, can we all look at our relationships from this perspective of a Culture of Honor? Jesus Christ died and was resurrected so that we could be reconciled to him and then bring his message of reconciliation to the nations. How can you, in this Easter season put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love and treat everyone in the name of Jesus so that his perfect love can cast out fear and bring freedom?