Playing the bagpipes is a lot like throwing a javelin blindfolded. You don’t have to be very good at it to get people’s attention. But to get their respect? That’s a challenge.
Bagpipers often get no respect. Have you ever heard anyone say, "There’s the pipe
player's new Porsche.”? It just doesn’t happen. Or, what's the difference between a piper stranded by the road and a country singer stranded by the road? The country singer might be on the way to a recording session.
OK, before I get letters from the Bagpipe Lovers Organization of the World, let me quickly say that I like bagpipes. Really! Nothing is more moving than a lone piper playing Amazing Grace. And I have a good friend who plays. But I think you’d have to agree they don’t usually achieve the same celebrity as other musicians. Perhaps they should. It’s a difficult instrument to play.
Even more deserving of our respect is God. That, of course, seems obvious and we might be tempted to think that everyone gives God the respect he deserves. Jesus, in one of his deep tales (parables) suggests otherwise.
Jesus compared God’s kingdom to a vineyard. The owner invested considerable money in planting and equipping his vineyard. He then rented it to some farmers and left, sending his servant later to collect. But instead of paying rent, the farmers beat up the collector and sent him away empty-handed. This they did to a series of servants, even killing some. Eventually, the owner sent his son, thinking that surely he would be respected. But they killed him, too.
Seems too bizarre to be true, right? That’s what those who heard Jesus tell this story thought, too. “May this never be!” they exclaimed (Luke 12:16).
But it was happening even as Jesus spoke. Countless prophets and priests had been sent before him, only to be rejected, beaten, or killed. Even as Jesus finished his story, religious leaders “looked for a way to arrest him” (12:19).
Shocking, isn’t it? We know what happens to a tenant who won’t pay the rent. How could those who stood in Jesus’ presence deny the respect due him?
The same way we might. Let’s pay our rent. Respect, reverence, results - those are things rightfully due to our Owner.
We can do that. I’m optimistic – as optimistic as a bagpiper with a pager.