Are you tired of the political ads yet? The answer to that is probably yes, especially here in North Carolina. Being a “battleground state” has its benefits I suppose, but also its cost. The US Senate contest here is expected to end up being the most expensive one in US history, meaning that more money will be spent by the candidates, parties, and their supporters on advertising than any other. Ever. While I think that’s kind of the American way, and actually part of the blessing of living in a free country that gives its citizens the final say of who their rulers will be, I’m ready to get past all the political commercials.
We discussed the theme text of 1 Peter (2:9-12) last Sunday. In that passage the apostle reminds us—the church, not the USA—of our identity as “God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” He tells us that our purpose is to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” And he gives us a general statement of how we are to do that, urging us “to abstain from sinful desires” and live good and faithful lives “among the pagans.” That’s where we find our evangelistic opportunities and impact as well.
The rest of the book teaches us what that looks like when it’s lived out in specific situations we face every day in this world by addressing several examples and settings of daily life. And it may surprise you which one the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to address first.
To the people of his day—and to us today—who are living as resident immigrants in a pagan society, the first subject tackled is how to relate to civil authorities.
For the recipients of Peter’s letter in the first century, and for us living in secular societies in the 21st century, this is one of the most needed teachings. We need a word from the Lord on how to live with Christian values and faithfulness in an environment where others—and particularly the governing authorities—are increasingly antagonistic to these values.
That was their world in the first century. More and more it’s becoming our world in today’s America.
I plan to cover this passage (1 Peter 2:13-17) in two sermons. This Sunday we will consider our involvement and engagement with the authorities. Yes, most—almost all—of the time in the NT, Christians “turned the other cheek” and lived with whatever the authorities chose to do and left it at that.
I think that should be our attitude as well.
Most of the time.
But there are a few examples of those first century Christians standing their ground and calling on the authorities to right a wrong. How that plays out in our society which, unlike theirs, gives us many more opportunities to be involved in civil matters, will be the subject this Sunday. Please stop what you’re doing right now and pray for me and these next two sermons.
The second sermon on this passage will speak to the call to respect and submit to the civil authorities. No matter who wins on Tuesday. Or in 2016. Or ever.
I’ll give you a hint where both are headed. “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:15)
In today’s pagan, secular society, are you doing good?