You have probably heard the expression: We Need to Respect the Position Even if We Cannot Respect the Man in the Position. It is a corollary to the idea that people (children) should have respect for authority. Who says we should respect authority, the authorities perhaps?
In matters religious, the ultimate authority would be God himself. Perhaps a Bible student might point to Romans 13 as the text to confirm the need to respect authority, since this passage seems to infer God’s authority on to the civil government. Does God enjoin us to defer to the authority of our superiors today?
What about our respect or reverence for God himself. Is that rightfully the result of God’s ultimate position of authority in the universe? Some would likely answer “yes” , proclaiming that we must reverence (respect) God because of who he is, the powerful Creator of the universe, a being so righteous that he cannot be in the presence of sinful man. Their message generally comes across as indicating that we owe God this respect because of his elevated state versus our lowly state. It is a matter of relative station in life; God is the Master and we are the subjects. Often in the same breath we are told that God is angry with us over our faults and shortcomings and that he plans to punish us severely unless we do exactly what he says. The fact that what he supposedly says is seemingly arbitrary and confusing in its interpretation is in no way mitigating. God demands and we must comply somehow. God expects our complete respect and we must respond with due admiration.
This picture of God certainly does God a great disservice. This sounds too much like the human-like gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans, which current day theologians would identify as pagan deities fabricated by the simple-minded peoples of an earlier age. In reality God rightfully draws from us an ever deeper respect as we come to more fully understand his glorious nature, a nature unadulterated by human ignorance, prejudice, and false assumptions. In the end we come to reverence God because of that nature and what he has demonstrated in his Love for mankind. This respect is more than earned; it is irresistibly generated in our hearts because God’s unconditional love is the most powerful motivator in the universe.