Verse: 1 Peter 2:16-17 GNB
16 Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves. 17 Respect everyone, love your fellow-believers, honour God, and respect the Emperor.
These are some easily followed verses, right?! Nothing hard 😊 Respect everyone, but only when they do things that you think are respectable, or all the time regardless of their behavior? I’m fairly certain Peter is saying the second one – I think this is the basic respect that should be afforded to every human as they are made in the image of God. They are His beloved creation, thereby deserving of respect.
Love your fellow-believers, another easy call – love other Christians – when you agree all the time, or just because you both follow Jesus? Again, probably just because we both follow Jesus. Super simple, there are definitely no difficult moments between Jesus following people! 😊
Honour God and respect the Emperor – this is an interesting line – one is the head of our lives (God in case you were wondering) and the other is the leader(s) of our earthly country. Is one higher than the other? Should they be on par with each other? I think most of us objectively would say that God is above the leader of our country, but what do our actions say? Are we putting the humans who lead on a pedestal and idolizing them above God? Excusing actions that we would not tolerate as good Christian behavior if those close to us were engaged in it? The other side of this is are we being so critical of our leaders and expecting perfection of them that is not achievable by anyone but God? We are supposed to live in the world but not be of it.
If we go to the Old Testament there are multiple stories where people were taken out of their land and brought to another place where they respected the governing ruler, but still abided by the rules of God. Many of these rules related to prayer, food, and conduct. Because these rules were from God, they were taken to be more important than what the ruler of the land stated. (You can think about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) So, how are we stacking up against that? Are we respecting our government, but holding ourselves to a higher standard provided to us by God?
I think the other trap some of us can fall into is the “God is in control” or “I only need to be worried about the politics of Heaven” mindsets and that causes us to do nothing. I do believe that God is in control, but I also believe that God has given me a purpose and passions that mean that I am called to do something about injustice. So, while I respect our government, I also work to hold it responsible for meeting the needs of the people, and to meet the needs of those people in an equitable way. Micah 6:8 says, “…. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” We aren’t called to sit on the sidelines of anything in life – we are called to act justly – no matter where we are, love mercy – no matter with whom we interact, and to walk humble with your God – no matter where we go.
God, I pray that You will show us if our priorities have been out of focus and help us to adjust where needed. Please show us where you have given us purpose and passion to serve and how we can walk that out.
Author: Candice Gifford