January 30 – Equality
Read: Ephesians 4:22-25
One night in grad school, I was walking down the hall on my way out of the music building and came upon one of my professors. “Goodnight, Dr. Graves,” I said. Further down the hall, I saw Tom, the building's custodian. "Goodnight, Tom," I said in greeting. "Goodnight," he replied. The juxtaposition of the two greetings struck me; Tom performs an important role by keeping the building clean, yet no one addresses him with any special title. My teachers, on the other hand, were usually called Doctor or Professor.
That evening I started thinking about several questions: can we treat people equally while referring to them in different ways? If titles are meant to show respect, was there something about my professors that made them more deserving of respect than others? Was I being called to address my professors without titles as I do everyone else? As I thought and prayed about it, I began to see that when we choose to address people differently, we put them in different categories, usually according to their socio-economic level.
God made it clear to me that I needed to act on this new conviction, and though it was difficult for me to tell my professors how I was going to address them, most of them understood. One professor, however, told me that I was being narrow-minded and should reconsider. This difficult encounter made me sense the power in what I was being called to do, and how it stripped away a façade constructed in academia meant to make some people feel more important than others.
As I obeyed Christ's call, I felt a new sense of accountability to treat everyone with respect. After all, if my witness of referring to each person the same way was to have integrity, I had to treat people equally, too. I learned that treating people with respect has little to do with how we address them, and much do with whether or not we are viewing them as fellow children of God.
Am I grateful for the people around me and the work they do?
Do I treat people in all walks of life in a way that values them as children of God?