|Posted on November 14, 2021 at 12:05 AM|
This morning my devotions brought me to 1 Peter 2:15-16. Because I had been working on a sermon, my bible app was open to the Message bible, a translation of scripture that I use from time to time because the language is so down to earth. It read: “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.”
I’m not sure why that hit my heart so hard, except that I’ve tried to be a little more aware of what’s going on in the world lately. During the past election, and the with all the hate being spewed around the world, I had started ignoring the news – instead choosing programing that lifted me up rather than planting fear or anger.
But like David with Goliath, we can’t slay our giants unless we acknowledge and confront them, so I’ve made a resolution to watch an hour of news every morning. Starting my day like that was daunting at first, but I’ve come to appreciate that it gives me something to pray over beyond my own personal needs. More importantly, I’ve learned that just because I am aware of something, doesn’t give it power or authority over me. That is something only I can grant.
This scripture was likely written during the bloody reign of Nero, who took the persecution of Christians in Rome as his personal mission. In fact, Peter was brutally martyred during this history making time. Surprisingly, the Apostle wasn’t calling for God’s people to hide or be silent, but to model good behavior. The NKJV says “by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…”. Submission to our governmental leaders and laws doesn’t mean we can be denied our Christian freedom, because our freedom isn’t determined by any man. But it is an act of truly free people to recognize what needs to be changed and to work toward that goal without causing even more chaos.
Romans 6:22 tells us that having been set free from sin we become slaves of God, and that our continued pursuit should be holiness. We are not under the rule of our circumstances or a failing government. We are in the total control of God whom we need never question. It can feel like our lives are in the hands of a faltering administration, economic structure or deteriorating planet, but those are just giants and nothing to the Father of lights from whom every good gift and every perfect gift comes… and with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning [James 1:17].
If we shift our thinking from believing that the circumstances and chaos around us can affect us in any meaningful way, to the knowledge that our only Master is God – and that He alone is in charge of our destiny, it is easier to adopt an attitude of humbleness and to break the bondage of fear.
With God’s help, we can silence the ignorant talk, or as Peter said, “cure the ignorance of fools,” by acting in a way that demonstrates holiness rather than anger. It’s not easy, and it’s not going to happen all at once, but our true freedom depends on total trust in God.
Of course if we’re asked to choose between God’s law and the governing authorities, we choose submission to God. But we need to take care and understand that genuine freedom, as defined scripturally, means it is exercised under the law not outside of it. Liberty is not a free pass to do anything we please. Jesus taught with love, showing His righteous anger sparingly and only when appropriate, and so should we.
So yes, we acknowledge the giant. But we also rest in the knowledge that God is our final authority and that there is nothing He can’t tear down. He doesn’t need rioting, angry mobs or fire in the streets. Just a tiny stone and a faith-filled heart.
Be blessed my Friend, God is on the throne!