Pastor Mike Gerhardt, First Peter #7, January 1, 2017, Honor the King, 1 Peter 2:13-21. Introduction: Rejoicing is a major theme as we celebrate this season. On January 6 on the day we celebrate Epiphany, you can move your wise men near the Christ child but Jesus should not be in a manger and should not be an infant. When the wise men finally arrived to worship the new born King he wasn’t a new born. Jesus was probably 1 and a half to 2 years old, and the Magi came to honor Jesus, it wasn’t at the stable but in a house; read Matthew chapter 2 for details. Royal officials honored Jesus. They also bowed to him in worship.
Some think bowing to another person is a sign of weakness. Some think submission is a bad word. Hupotasso, is a compound Greek word meaning to line up or arrange under a commander. It was a military command used to instruct soldiers to fall in line. Submit to Every Authority!
Do you like to masquerade? On December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams gave a prearranged verbal signal in his closing comments. He said, This meeting can do nothing more to save the country. On hearing this, men disguised as Mohawk Indians let out a war cry and rushed the docks. They boarded three ships, chopped open 342 chests of tea and threw it into the Massachusetts Bay. This bold defiance of the British Government was to protest King George’s tax; taxation without representation. The Boston Tea Party. If you lived then, would you have participated? What should a Christian living in those times have done?
Every Christian needs a non-stick Teflon coating when accused of doing wrong. The accusations should not stick because of our good deeds. It’s possible if we understand that we are strangers and pilgrims. It’s possible if we realize that we are engaged in a spiritual battle, a war against our souls and one enemy is our own sinful desires. It’s possible if we live holy and serve others. Governments have two purposes according to God’s Word: to punish evil doers (no hint of reforming them) and to praise those that do good (encourage good citizenship). Paul expressed this in Romans 13:1-7. As pilgrims, strangers, aliens and exiles, we may think we have no responsibility toward human government, but Peter tells us we have a greater obligation to obey the law. The world watches the Christian; therefore, we live by the power of the Spirit. Our honest good behavior is the way to silence any accusations. Though we may not agree with those who hold office, we must respect the office they hold. The Christian is free indeed in Jesus, but freedom is not license. Live as truly free in the Lord. Independence or individualism is different than true freedom. Oswald Chambers: Independence must be blasted clean out. There must be no such thing left, only freedom, which is very different. Freedom is the ability not to insist on my rights, but to see that God gets His. Only in God’s joyful slavery is there true freedom. As we are dependent on God the Father, we are completely free from the penalty of sin in Jesus. With this perspective, we can easily show respect and honor the king, even the president.
The Bible tells us in many ways that Christian employees work for Jesus. I personally never met a boss who was perfect, until I met Jesus. Another principle here is that suffering is part of living. Peter addressed household slaves who were saved and part of the church. Neither Peter nor Paul attacked slavery as an institution. Instead they encouraged slaves to be devoted Christians and to obtain their liberty if they could. Servants must show submission to their masters, even if these masters are unreasonable and hard to get along with. This principle applies to workers today. Supervisors often try to lord it over Christian employees or persecute them in different ways. The easiest thing to do is to fight back, but this is the wrong approach. Peter explained that everybody must accept the reproof if he is being punished. If we suffer for doing good and endure it, that’s commendable to God. Peter is not telling us to look for ways to suffer persecution. The Greek for commendable is one used for grace. What grace is shown if we endure suffering for our faults? It takes real grace to endure suffering when you do good. A person that is conscious of God’s presence can endure anything. Christians have been called to suffer for Jesus sake. We should not expect our lives to be a bed of roses. Jesus promised that we would be persecuted. Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Peter points to Christ as our example in suffering. He is not teaching that we are saved by following Christ or by suffering for Him. In His sufferings, Jesus exemplified how to endure and glorify God. Peter was a witness of Christ’s sufferings; he knew that Jesus was sinless and that He was condemned wrongfully. In word, attitude and deed, our Lord set a perfect example for us. He did not argue; He did not fight back; He did not revile His accusers after they had reviled Him. He simply committed Himself to His Father’s will and left the outcome with Him. Since He lives in us, He can enable us to act as He acted when the world persecutes us. Remember that during the time that Peter is writing, Nero is the Emperor in Rome, probably one of the most unfit rulers in history and persecuting Christians by throwing them to the lions.
Hermann Lange, facing execution, wrote from his prison cell in Hamburg on July 11, 1943: Trust that God has your best interests in mind and be willing to do what he asks of you, even if you don’t understand why. Obedience starts with having a heart that says yes to God. Personally, I am perfectly calm, facing steadfastly what is to come. When one has really achieved complete surrender to the will of God, there is a marvelous feeling of peace and sense of absolute security. The gift we receive is so unimaginably great that all human joys pale beside it. William Barclay: Christian Freedom does not mean being free to do as we like; it means being free to do as we ought. As Christians, our goal in life is to please God. This is why we obey government. We want to obey and bring honor to Him, and please Him. By submitting to government, we are helping to achieve God’s purpose of order in His world. God is honored when Christians are viewed as law abiding, taxpaying and society stabilizing people. God is not honored when we form militias and secret societies bound to overthrow government establishments, or even when we constantly complain about the government, as if God was powerless to fix it or not in control of it. All authority is delegated from God. It is because Christ is Lord, not Caesar, that one can submit. We are not to trust in nor put our hope in the government. But by submitting to the government, we are affirming that we trust God alone. We are to pray for our leaders.
Submission to government is an act of submission to God. The government will fail us; we should expect that. And when it does, we simply affirm that God is in control, and He will vindicate us, provide for us, protect us, and cause us to triumph in all things in Christ. This doesn’t mean that we are to be absent from the political process. Submission never implies apathy. We have the right to vote, to communicate our opinions, to run for office. We have an obligation as a good citizen to participate in politics. Finally, we should support our leadership in prayer, whether we agree with them politically or not. We need to ask ourselves: does our Father in heaven know best or not? Let’s Pray.