Lord, teach me submission to You ﬁrst, then to the government.
Read 1 PETER 2:11–17
Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect on the country where God has stationed you. Give thanks for its blessings. Spend time praying for its people and government.
A young refugee who was recently granted residence in my country said her excellent academic results were because her parents insisted that all the family work and study hard, obey the law and function as good citizens. They believed it was the best way they could express their gratitude for the new opportunities given them and in turn serve the community that had accepted them. This has always been good advice for new arrivals, but even more so today when asylum seekers and immigrants are not welcomed in many places. Refugees fleeing conflict should also be a reminder to us (if we need it) of how precious a stable government is.
Similarly, as kingdom citizens our good behavior should owe to, ﬁrst, our gratitude over being God’s chosen people, given a new life by the one who created us and knows how we function best. Second, living holy lives is a good witness to unbelievers. This includes submitting to authority. We are not to resist government ordinances just because we don’t like them. Good government is God’s blueprint for mankind. Communities are formed around laws, and we must do all that we can to comply with local as well as national law.
Of course, the general principle of “honor the emperor” (17) has its limits. Peter, who was imprisoned several times in the early days of the church in Judea (Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:1–19) and later would die at the hands of the Roman authorities, knows this. In many countries Christians are still targeted despite their exemplary civic behavior— and usually because of it! Those facing this persecution need wisdom to know when and how to refuse edicts that mean denying God or one of God’s commands. The rest of us must learn how to show our solidarity from afar with those who in foreign lands are oppressed for their resistance.
What is your part in supporting those who are abused or reviled for their Christian witness?
Lord, give me the wisdom to discern which secular laws You would have me disregard, as I submit myself to Yours ﬁrst.