Christians Today Tend to be Inconsistent in Their Lives
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
You know Christians today are too busy with things that don’t matter. They are too busy in-fighting and living out of selfishness to worry about how to live. Today Peter addresses Christian behavior with the world that they are sojourning on their way to heaven.
(13) Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, (14) or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (15) For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—( 16) as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. (17) Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
-1 Peter 2:13-17
In verses thirteen and fourteen, depending on your translation, it starts by saying “therefore.” Therefore means that we need to keep in mind what we just read. Peter is saying because you are not a permanent resident of this world, therefore do the following.
Peter tells us to submit to the worldly authorities; those that have authority within the land we sojourn. We should obey every law of the land so long as it does not directly go against scripture. Peter says that we should do this for “the Lord’s sake.” We need to remember that in all we do, we do it for Jesus Christ, not for any other reason (c.f. 1 Corinthians 10:31). This would have been a hard pill to swallow for these people reading this letter in the first century. They were being persecuted by the government, but Peter calls them to a higher level; he tells them to submit. Why? Because it is in times of persecution and hardship in Christian’s lives that their faith is truly shown to others. It is during these times that Christians give their strongest witness for Christ or their strongest statement of hypocrisy. So it is up to Christians to decide, by every action they take during these times, as to how they will represent Christ. Peter admonishes them to chose Christ and come under the authority of the leaders of the land.
At the end of verse fourteen it states that governments have a divine right to punish evildoers and honor those who are good. Which governments do to the honor of God, unless they are evil and corrupt themselves. In that case they need to honor what is not in direct contrast to God’s Word.
In verse fifteen, it says that this is the will of God so that when Christians do good things it will silence the ignorant and foolish. The word silence has with it the idea of a muzzle! You literally muzzle people’s bad mouthing of you and Christianity, if as Christians you do good things. When Peter talks about these people being foolish he is referring to their mental state of laziness. Rather than try to find out what Christianity is really (supposed to be) about, they just bad mouth it because they could care less about trying to understand something. Christians are not immune to being lazy minded either. There are a lot of people professing to be Christians who do the same thing. So this thought of people being foolish is also used in Ephesians 5:17 to describe believers. As Christians we should study to show ourselves approved to God to rightly understand His Word (2 Timothy 2:15).
Peter says in verse sixteen that we need to act as free individuals. We should not use this freedom to promote sin and vice but liberty in the Spirit of Christ. There are a lot of people out there that use this freedom as a justification for sin, Peter tells us here that this is wrong and we should not practice sin and evil. We are supposed to be servants of Christ, living sacrificially and helping others come to a saving relationship with Jesus. Far too often though Christians will use this freedom to give a perception of self-righteousness and this turns people away from a relationship with Jesus. We need to be mindful of this and do our best, in prayer, to not be a reproach to the cause of Christ.
Now Peter brings this line of thinking to a close in verse seventeen with a series of four commands that he gives us. (1) Honor everyone, (2) Love other believers, (3) Fear God, and (4) Honor the government.
The first command was to honor everyone. In the context of the scripture Peter is saying that we must remember that all people are created in God’s image. Because all people are made in God’s image we need to live in such a way that will attract non-believers to Jesus Christ that they may become believers.
The second command is to Love other believers. In-fighting amongst believers is not only shameful, but despicable and gives Christianity a black eye. This should not be happening in Christianity. Peter is trying to bring back to our remembrance that love is what defines us as Christians. You have probably heard it said that God is love. How awful it is for Christians to not even show the nature that they claim to have inside them. Only through dealing with people out of love for others will people come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The Third command is to fear God. This is not talking about a fearfulness that you are completely terrified of God, but it is talking about showing God reverence. If we are showing God reverence and respect then this command becomes the glue that holds the other three together.
The fourth and final command is honor the government. Remember that the government has great power and we must obey the laws of the land of which we are sojourning on our way to heaven. We must remember to not violate the law of the land unless they are in direct contrast to the Word of God.
Remember that this passage of scripture is all about how we should live, especially while we are being persecuted. Why? Because these are the times that show who Christ really is and what He is about. If we can remember the four commands above then we can win the world to Christ and bring unity to Christians in spreading the Gospel to a world that needs Jesus.
How about you today? How is your interaction with the world around you? Are you honoring Christ in Your actions? If not, you need to ask God for forgiveness and start acting properly in your witness for Christ. The Choice is yours.