Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who Rules?

1 Peter 2:13 (NLT)
For the Lord's sake, respect all human authority-whether the king as head of state,...

1 Peter 2:18...
You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you-not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel.

- These verses certainly rule out armed insurrection as viable activities for Christians. In the old testament, even Moses was required by God to obtain Pharoah's permission to leave Egypt. It's safe to say that God does not support civil war.

So then, are we just expected to knuckle under when our rulers are cruel and unjust? And if our government sends us to war must we go?

[19] For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.

- I think part of the answer to our dilemma is found in verse 19. Peter says, "when you do what you know is right..."

We always respect the authority over us but we don't do what the authority tells us to do if it is wrong. Paul wrote elsewhere, "follow me as I follow Christ." In other words, if I am not following Christ, don't follow me.

Even as we respect a king's authority, we also expect that ruler to follow God as his or her leader. That is who we all ultimately follow. If the ruler violates that trust we are required to follow our conscience, and continue doing the good God requires of us. But we may have to endure punishment for disobeying our human authorities. I think of Daniel continuing to pray openly, which led to his being thrown into the lion's den.

[21] For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

- Likewise Jesus continued his mission, knowing that it led ultimately to crucifixion. He did not let anyone turn him away from that fate and he did not condone violent revolution, though his followers, in their confusion, tried both tactics.

1 Peter 2:24-25 (NLT)
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

- We are called to "live for what is right..." hopefully under an authority that has the same goal. If not, so be it. That does not turn us from our mission, even if we suffer cosequences for doing good.

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