The Culture of Honor—A Brief Essay

What is needed to walk in our true identity, and to carry out the mission of bringing heaven to earth, is the culture of honor.

God the Father wants nothing less than heaven on earth. This is why he gave us his Son, and his many promises. Many people tend to believe that heaven—”eternal life”—is only to be enjoyed after we die. But Jesus came “that we might have life and life to the full.” The indwelling Trinity—the very atmosphere of heaven—means “eternal life” is already in us; “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” When asked how to pray, Jesus told his disciples to ask their Father “the kingdom of you–come! The will of you–be done! As it is in heaven—so on the earth!” His hope is that we all begin to experience the atmosphere of heaven, the presence and love of God, beginning now. Obviously, this worldview is profoundly different from one which is primarily focused on individual sanctification. Instead, as in Jesus’ ministry, its focus is to see the Father’s exciting love demonstrated, experienced, and advanced throughout the world.

When the Father looks at us, he is delighted in his creation; he delights in the beauty before him. His hope is that we begin to see what he sees. He desires that we begin to rejoice in our own creation. Through his constant affirmation of our beauty and dignity, we begin to understand our true identity. We are not orphans, or merely servants. We are sons and daughters of a wealthy Father. He wants us to shed the thought that we are nobodies, and realize that we are children who have been given gifts of needs, passions, and dreams. All of these gifts were given to the world as part of his great mission to bring the atmosphere of heaven to earth. But the gifts are only embraced, as is our true identity, when they are affirmed as good. His plan for us, then, is to help us walk into these gifts.

What is needed to walk in our true identity, and to carry out the mission of bringing heaven to earth, is the culture of honor.

The culture of honor is simply affirming and drawing out the beauty and importance of each person. We live this culture when we see every other person as a gift given by God to contribute to the mission of advancing the kingdom. People’s gifts are not seen as accidental, but an intentional decision by the Lord. The implication of seeing people like this is great. If we start from the position that people are awesome, and have something great to offer, then we begin to interact with them differently. We always speak of them as part of our family, even when they fail. We enter into conflicts with others with the goal of affirming them as a gift in our lives, and in the world. We always consider their gifts as given for a specific role in the mission of the Church.

The Church is doing many wonderful things. Ministers around the globe are giving their lives to the Lord. Yet, sometimes church culture may fall short of a culture of honor. Helping others walk in authority is often not seen as a criterion for promoting the mission of the Church.

Affirming the unique identity of others is oftentimes not a priority. Instead, ministry is a matter of “getting things done;” fear of others failing us can dictate our decisions. Other people discovering they are powerful in the Lord may be seen as a threat to our own power. Eventually, when people’s gifts are not affirmed, the mission of the Church suffers. People become tired, confused, and disinterested. Dreams are lost, and the kingdom of God is not advanced to the full.

The good news is that it’s never too late to build a culture of honor. This culture begins when we allow our lives to become a priority. I am important. I matter. I am worth it. We start to realize that we can only pastor the Church as much as we pastor our own hearts. More importantly, we allow ourselves to let the Father show us how awesome we truly are, because of his love for us, and, his image in us.

 

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avatar About Fr. Anthony Co

Fr. Anthony Co is presently an assistant chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. While completing his studies in philosophy and in Eastern religions at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, he received his calling to the priesthood. After graduating from University of Illinois, Fr. Anthony entered Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary (Emmitsburg, Maryland), and was later ordained to the priesthood on May 28, 2005. From June 2005-2006, he was an assistant at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (Monmouth, Illinois), St. Theresa Catholic Church (Alexis, Illinois), and St. Andrew Catholic Church (Oquawka, Illinois) while also working with college students at Monmouth College as a Newman chaplain. In June of 2006, Fr. Anthony was reassigned to assist at St. Matthew Catholic Church, and spent more than a year ministering to the Latino community of Champaign-Urbana. His assignment as an assistant chaplain at St.John’s Catholic Newman Center began in the summer of 2009.

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