Read: 1 Peter 2: 13-17
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,
14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Did you read the passage? Wow. In a country where we pride ourselves in our independence and our ability to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps”, Peter’s words may sting a bit. According to Peter, living as free people we are to live as servants of God because that is His will.
Clearly he is telling us to be submit to the authorities God has put in place in our government. Notice that the reason for us to submit to human institutions is “for the Lord’s sake.” Our testimony about Christ is seen in the way we conduct ourselves. As Christians we are called to obey the laws of the land. We pay our taxes. And, if we live in New York City, we now drink only 16 ounce sodas at McDonald’s. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here.)
This is not to say that Christians in the first century, or in ours, follow the government blindly. There is a time for civil disobedience because we are never to deny our Savior. Church history tells us that Peter was crucified upside-down since he refused to deny Christ. Paul was beheaded. Nearly all of the early church fathers died a martyr’s death, but the instruction here is how we live.
We should be good citizens, and by doing so, we give glory to God with our lives. Honor the people we interact with daily. Love our fellow believers. Honor the Emperor.