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Government … How Should We Respond?

05.17.20 Nathaniel Wall

  1. A Cross Before a Crown
    07.26.20 42m 38s
  2. Two Ways the Devil Wants to Devour You
    07.19.20 43m 46s
  3. Three Marks of a Godly Leader
    07.12.20 38m 36s
  4. Advance in Adversity
    07.05.20 38m 15s
  5. Five Things We Should Be In Troubling Times
    06.28.20 24m 31s
  6. Following Jesus is Bizarre
    06.21.20 35m 48s
  7. One Cure for Every Injustice
    06.14.20 37m 41s
  8. Be Blessed and Love Life
    06.07.20 41m 52s
  9. God’s Calling For Marriage
    05.31.20 40m 08s
  10. Called for a Purpose
    05.24.20 32m 00s
  11. Government … How Should We Respond?
    05.17.20 38m 43s
  12. Our New Identity
    05.10.20 34m 51s
  13. How to Respond to Difficult Days
    05.03.20 36m 48s
  14. Prepared for Problems
    04.26.20 32m 18s
  15. Finding Victory When You Feel Defeated
    04.19.20 34m 25s
  16. The Day that Changes Everything
    04.12.20 37m 22s
  17. Palm Sunday
    04.05.20 30m 48s

Government … How Should We Respond?

05.17.20 Nathaniel Wall All In Series

Many of you might know that Ravi Zacharias is battling cancer right now and they expect he’s near the final days of his life. He has some wonderful comments and quotes to the significance of us as human beings as it relates to life. Ravi Zacharias has said to find the purpose of life is to find the Creator of life. And when you look at the significance of what Peter is at in 1 Peter 2 that is what he is identifying for us. It’s not about who you are, as Ravi Zacharias says, it’s about whose you are and the need for us to be reminded constantly of whose we are is important for our lives and living in light of that relationship that we have with God.

In 1 Peter 2 is helping us think through that identity and that’s exactly where we were last week as we looked at in verse three and on all the way down to verse 10 where Peter lays out for us an identity that is significant to our relationship with God as it relates to our relationship with others in this world. And what he does is he identifies for us that we are living stones being built up into a spiritual household. It’s not about a building. It’s about God’s people and what God is doing in us and through us together. And the reason we are these living stone’s is because he is the living stone, the foundation, the cornerstone on which all is built upon.

Then he goes on in verse nine and he begins to describe the characteristics of what it means to be a part of God’s family. These descriptions, he says, you’re a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. This identity becomes important for us to live. The question that we want to look at this morning is to simply ask, am I ready to live that out? Knowing what God has called us to in him. Knowing how he has shaped us for a purpose in him and that we belong to him. He’s called us out in chapter one to be holy, because of the power of his resurrection in our lives. As we put our faith in that King who rescues us. Am I ready to live it out?

In 1 Peter 2:11 he begins this section of scripture really by helping us understand, do we have the right focus? He’s given us that identity in Jesus, but do we have the right focus? In verse 11 he says this, “Beloved.” I’m going to stop there for just a minute and read the rest, but allowing that word to just wash over our soul is important. Beloved. You think about what your identity is in Jesus. Loved. Beloved. You belong. Christ cares about you. When you think about the reason for every sin that is committed in this world, I think every sin is conducted under this one idea, the act of unbelief.

We don’t believe that God is the good God that he claims to be, that he cares for us in the way that he says in verse nine. And because when we do not believe that we’ll live out life for ourselves for different reasons, different purposes, but when we understand that we are beloved by him, that changes the way that we respond. There I think are two things primarily in the life of a Christian, in the idea of unbelief that keeps us from moving forward in the calling that God gives to our lives. One is guilt and the other is shame.

The idea of guilt is this reflection on everything that you’ve done wrong in your life, it’s to make you become a prisoner of your past. And the idea of shame is to continue to cast that image on you from stopping you or prohibiting you from taking a step forward in the new identity that God has given you.

And when it comes to live out your life according to the way that Christ has called you, it has nothing to do with the identity you give to yourself. But everything that Jesus has done for you. The idea of his love being lavished on you isn’t because you’ve demonstrated yourself lovable. But it’s because of his love being demonstrated to you and while you were still sinners. And so this phrase has everything to do with understanding how we’re to live in light of Christ is to understand you recognize that in Jesus you are beloved.

If you belong to Jesus, you’re his, you are loved. And then he says, in the rest of verse 11, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lust which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles and the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” So what he’s saying to us is this, look you are aliens and strangers, and the reason he calls us aliens and strangers is to recognize you no longer live for the kingdom of this world, but now you belong to another King.

We live as aliens and strangers to one place because we belong to another. And so the identity of being loved in him has separated us from a world that may call us to something different. And he wants us to recognize that the things of this world, what it does for our lives is it wages war against our souls. And the question then becomes, how are you going to respond to it?

So you have this identity that God wants to give you, and the world wants to speak into you something that’s contrary to that. They want to guilt and shame and change the identity for which you were given in Jesus. But God wants you to live out that identity in him and the world will wage war against your soul. How you respond to that becomes important because the way you respond to that is what produces change in the world around us and change within our own nature.

Listen to what the world says or listen to what Jesus says. There are three ways I think that we can respond in light of recognizing that we are in a battle. We can fight. We can flight against the world or we can be a light to the world, right?

We can turn and we can allow just our voice to scream back at the response and anger. We can fight it. We can run and hide and saying, Ooh, that’s an awful world, I want to be a part of it. Or we can take on the identity that Jesus gives us and be a light to the darkness around us and this is what he’s calling us to in this passage of scripture. To live in light of that, and this is where he gets into verse 12 to keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles. It’s not just about what you say, but it’s about how you conduct your life. So that they, in this thing which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. I’ll tell you, theologians are a little bit divided as to what this last part of this verse means that while they slander you, if you keep your actions honorable before God, that they will honor God on the day of visitation.

They think, okay, so what is this day? Is that the day the gospel is pronounced to them and they receive it and therefore glorify God? Or is it the day of judgment where God finally comes and they’re being judged because they’re sinning and never embracing Jesus, and in so doing they look back of all the demonstration of God’s people and they still praise God because they saw the goodness of God through the people of God being lived out. Theologians aren’t sure which it is. Is it the good behavior leads to the salvation of others because they see the goodness of God in your life? Or is it your good behavior just works in the day of judgment for them to glorify God? I don’t think Peter’s specific here because I think the answer to all of it is yes. Either way, when God’s people glorify God in the way that they live their lives, not just by what they say, but how they behave in verse 12 it gives reason for the world to honor God, whether it’s in the day of judgment or not.

Whether salvation comes or no, it gives us reason to praise his name. And so the question comes for us in seeing the focus that we’re to have and to recognize that, okay, we don’t belong to the world, but we belong to Jesus, that we’re beloved in him, that that’s our identity, that I’m not going to allow the world to speak to me, but I’m allowing the identity that Christ has given to me. The reason that I can stand in my life and live for Christ isn’t because of anything that I’ve done, but everything that he has done for me and therefore I can stand.

Look, I know in life sometimes we’ve disappointed people, but because of what Jesus has done, maybe you’ve hurt trust in your relationships with others. But because of the identity that Christ gives you, allow them to see the day where they can trust in you again. And the reason that you can give up get up is not because you have the identity of your past on you, iIt’s because you have the identity of Jesus on you in the present.

Now the question is, am I demonstrating a healthy Christian life? Well, in chapter two verse 13, Peter takes this portion of scripture and he goes through the rest of the book and really he gives us a way of examining if our lives are truly demonstrating the goodness of God in the way reflect his goodness over us. Am I living this way?

Can I tell you as I get ready to read this section of scripture, that guys, when it comes to being a believer, Christians excel when they have an attitude of a servant, no matter their position in life. Even historically, when you look at Christianity, anytime Christianity was perceived as being on top, we’ve always done poorly. But when Christianity, when Christians take the attitude of a servant, we excel.

So am I demonstrating a healthy Christian life? Well, look in verse 13 because this is where he starts. Peter has given us a place of examining our lives and how to demonstrate the goodness of Christ. And then he says this in verse 13, “Submit yourselves.” Like I don’t even want to read the rest of that when I hear this word, I start, okay, how do I living a healthy Christian live? And the first thing Peter says is submit yourselves. I don’t want to do that. But then he goes on a little bit further and he talks about this idea of submission the way it should look, right? Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. Whether to a King as the one in authority or to governors.

So how do we know if we’re living a healthy Christian life? And Peter’s response here is submission. And here’s the irony of Peter picking this is that Peter is known as a zealot in his day and zealot would go to the extent of physical violence for the purposes for which they lived. And here we are politically, Peter being a zealot who would fight against Rome, now telling us to submit to the government. Now I don’t know about you, but in most cases maybe I’m mildly okay of submitting to the government. But that’s only if it does everything that I want it to do, because what I want is what matters most, or what I want is right. Of course we would all believe that because that’s why we think that we want those things.

When I read a passage like this, submit yourselves to the government, I want to read it like a dirty law and you’re looking for a loophole. I know the question people immediately ask when they read this kind of statement is, okay, but when do we not have to obey it? When is it okay not to do what the government says that we have to do? I want to hurry up and jump to that answer because that makes me feel more comfortable and I can justify my behavior. But I think what’s important to recognize here as we look at this passage of scripture is Peter is writing this at a time when Christians are being persecuted and killed by this government he’s saying to submit to.

Now, when you put into perspective the circumstances to Peter’s writing, it’s a little humbling, isn’t it? Submit yourselves to the government. How do we do that? What’s important that we recognize this passage of scripture and the only problem with trying to make loopholes to the statement is it’s not a conditional command.

So we better make sure that we understand it, and we understand it rightly as it relates to Christ. And I think the key to understanding this section of scripture isn’t just in this thought of submitting yourselves, but the reason that Peter gives us for the submission. In verse 13 he says, submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake. If we talk about submission and your approach, government authority for your sake, you’re going to act selfishly. But if you approach this idea of submission to the government for the Lord’s sake, then our hearts can begin to respond selflessly.

Because what we see in the statement that Peter is giving to us, this is not ultimately about me or the government, but rather what Jesus wants to achieve through my life through the circumstances, relationships around us, and he’s just starting this section of scripture with government. But this transcends into every way we relate to people in life.

This idea of being a servant for the cause of Christ is what Jesus uses to transform the hearts of people. This is God’s means and it was all ultimately demonstrated in Christ himself. Though, being in Philippians 2 the very form of God took him up on himself, the form of a servant to the point of death, even death on the cross. The reason my life has been transformed is because Jesus took the form of a servant. You want to make change, understand who you are in light of Christ. Submit to government, not for the sake of submitting to government, but for the sake of the Lord.

What does all that look like? I hope to explain a little bit more, but this is what I want us to remember. In John 18 Jesus really gives us the basis to understanding what we are about as his people. You remember in John chapter 18, this is where Jesus is about to be crucified. And he’s before Pilate and the accusation against Jesus is he’s proclaiming himself to be a King. In fact, when Jesus was crucified, they would put on the top of a criminal that was crucified, the reason for which they were being crucified. And on the top of Jesus’s cross, what does it say? King of the Jews. They understood that the claim that Jesus was making, Jesus saw himself as a King and Pilate asked Jesus in John chapter 18 are you really a King? And Jesus’ response comes in verse 36 he says this, “Jesus answered, my kingdom is not of this world.”

A very important statement for us to understand, meaning Jesus isn’t denying the fact that he is representing a kingdom. He’s just identifying from which this kingdom represents. He’s not saying, look, I’m not a King of this world. My kingdom is not from this world, implying to us that his kingdom comes from another place. It’s not to say that his kingdom won’t impact this world. He just wants us to understand it doesn’t originate from this world. And when you belong to this King, you represent this kingdom. And so in John chapter 18 verse 36 he says, my kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm. Therefore Pilate said to him, so you are a King, and Jesus answered, you say correctly that I am a King.

So here’s what Jesus is saying. You want to know why Christians don’t formulate an army we call a Christian army? It’s because we fight a different kind of battle. It’s a spiritual battle. If our battle became simply about getting people to bow down to our moral authority, trying to get their behavior to conform to what we want it to do, we’ll completely miss the purpose of which Jesus came and that is to transform from the inside out. Christians represent an army, but it’s not a physical army. It’s a spiritual army. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.

That’s why the apostle Paul continued to use the illustration of a military picture as he related to Christians, saying put on the armor of God. Because what do we represent? For the Lord’s sake, His kingdom, his glory.

You want to make change? I think government is important. It has a place. I think God wants us to influence the world around us. That’s true, but it’s not simply by behavior modification, but heart transformation. And this is what Jesus is saying exactly the Pilate, that his kingdom will make a change. But how does it make a change? By speaking to the hearts of people, because when you can get their heart, you change their lives. And when you change a life, you begin to change a society for the Lord’s sake.

I know sometimes as Christians we like to pretend like politics is the all to end all. So sometimes we can even get ugly in our behavior towards one another. But can I tell you the battle for the political world was really fought decades before we’ve come to this time today. I think the battle for the political world begins a few decades before in the hearts and minds of young people. Shaping their identity in light of who God is. If you want to make a change in this world, start influencing the minds of young people for the sake of Christ, helping them to understand their identity.

One of the most powerful tools that you have to make change in this world may be sitting within your household right now. I don’t even think we have the right to complain about anything as it relates to government, if we as Christians aren’t making disciples, because that’s where real change happens. I’m glad God gives you a voice, but I think we’ve got enough armchair quarterbacks in this world.

We need people that want to fight for more than just behavior modification in a society where they think “might makes right.” And have people that genuinely want to start on the basis for the Lord’s sake. Helping people understand their identity from God. If all you have is “might makes right,” all people are going to do is argue and bicker back and forth until all of a sudden one side gets tired and the one side gives in so that the other side can have by their strength whatever it is that they want.

And is that really how you operate? Is that how we’re called to operate? That whoever’s the strongest and screams the loudest wins at the end of the day? But rather is Jesus declaring to us that there’s a greater authority for which we’re all designed to really give an answer to that we’re all accountable to, and that is God. So when we walk in this world, we represent the Lord.

When we think in terms of politics, I think it’s important for us to remember that politics, they do have a place politics are the reordering of life for a temporal world, but the gospel is a reordering of life for an eternal world. And that by far is more important. When we can get lives to change for an eternal purpose it will impact this temporal world.

And here’s a good way of just testing within our own hearts if we’re being those kinds of people to effect proper change, whether we’re being a people that’s just forcing behavior modification or being a people that’s really seeking after heart transformation in the lives of others. Let me just toss this out. Depending on where you land politically, when certain names are mentioned in the political world, you can literally watch people recoil with a contorted face of frustration at the mention of certain political leaders.

What if rather our response wasn’t just based on sharing our opinion and how others make me feel, but what if we took upon ourselves as believers, rather than share our opinion first, we share our prayers. Meaning in 1 Timothy 2:1, listen to this. Paul says this, I urge that prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men for Kings and all who are in authority so that we may lead tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior.

Meaning God’s people aren’t called to be a thorn in the society, but a blessing. No doubt, there is a time where you have to stand up for things that are right and good. Meaning, I’ll just tell you this, frankly, I will never vote for anyone that thinks it’s okay to kill babies, never do it. There is a time to a stand for things like that in a constitutional democratic Republic that we live in. I think we have a place to have a voice and that is a wonderful thing I don’t ever want to take for granted. But before any of that, I recognize this, that my kingdom isn’t in this world. That my King isn’t from this world, but I represent a King from another world and for an eternal purpose. And when I live for that purpose, it will impact the kingdom of which I’m a part of in this temporal world.

And I want to be a blessing. That’s what God calls us to in this world, to be a blessing and that starts in a place where I am a person of prayer for leaders around me, even if I disagree with them. And maybe I should say, especially when I disagree with them.

So let me just ask the simple question then. So why does the government exist? That’s important for us to recognize. I think as Christians, we have a couple of places that help govern and direct our lives. It all originates from the Lord. It’s for the Lord’s sake. We have his Word and we have the church and we live in light of that and community to honor our King. Beautiful place. But what about people that don’t belong to that? Well, that gives us a beginning to understand why it is that government exists, because outside of the church, God’s Word in relationship to Christ, God has given all of society a few things that help govern us in order to preserve and promote and protect life.

The first for us is moral conscience. God’s given us all a moral conscious, no doubt moral conscience is corrupt, but God’s given us moral conscience to at least give us a framework for the decisions that we make as people. But when our moral conscience is sinful or just out of whack, God’s given us another realm to help guard and preserve life, and that is the family. What’s interesting in the entire New Testament, the only command for children in the New Testament is, children, Ephesians 6, obey your parents. And so God has given us family. And the third thing that God has given us is government.

Why does government exist? Well, 1 Peter 2:14 Peter describes it for us. He says to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. So why does government exist? The punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. When you look and study the idea of government as it exists in scripture, you see in the Noahic flood right after the Noahic flood, God giving authority to government. Then you see God establishing a monarchy through David and a theocracy in himself in Romans 13. It even tells us in that chapter all the way to verse seven how to honor governmental authority. Government is given to preserve and protect life, to implement justice and provide mercy. If you want to destroy a society based on those three things God’s given us, all you have to do is wake up tomorrow and just decide you’re going to do whatever it is that you want. Ignore the moral conscious, defied the family and disrespect authority. That is how you kill a society.

But God’s desire for us is to be a people of justice and mercy. And so this is what you see with government. The idea of punishment of evil doing and promoting what is right. In a society when people lose justice, what goes with it is hope. But you know what’s also interesting when a society brings justice, what they sacrifice in justice is mercy. I think in really no human form can we perfectly execute both justice and mercy, and this is what makes Jesus so important for us. It’s because it’s only through Christ that we can see justice and mercy measured out in the most perfect way. Where does that happen? At the cross. His justice, his wrath poured out on Christ and his mercy made known as we embraced Jesus for the payment he has made for our sins. A beautiful place for us to recognize the goodness of our God.

So when it comes to government, I think it’s important for us to know government isn’t inherently bad. It’s what you do with it that determines whether or not it’s good. Government is only as good as the people that lead it, which is what makes your job as a believer so important because you have opportunity not just to be a person that screams back at others, I don’t think that’s what God desires, but to influence.

Sometimes Christians, we buy into this mistake that leadership is about authority. A part of leadership is authority, but more powerful than authority is influence. Leadership is about influence. There are plenty of people in positions of authority that no one follows, but without even being in authority, you can influence the world. That’s what made Jesus so incredible, isn’t it? He never held a political office. He never wrote a book. He never led an army, but yet here we are, thousands of years later still talking about him, how? He became the servants of servants and he influenced. He influenced. His life, gives us life. He who is King of all became the servant of all for the benefit of others.

And now that same King calls you to reflect his goodness in this world because you have the opportunity to lead change because we’re only as good as the people that lead us, whether it be in authority or by influence. And all of us have the place of influence. That’s what makes your position so important as Christians to understand in 1 Peter 2:9, that you are a Royal priesthood and that you represent this King. So how does a Christian bring about change? Well, verse 15 he starts to share that for us. Look at this. He says, for such as the will of God, that by doing right, you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Notice he doesn’t just say saying, right, but in this phrase he says doing right. That we’re not people that just believe, but we’re also people that behave. And this is an ethical statement that Peter is making here.

Ethics has a few ways of considering how to get to an answer. You can be right in what you say, but in the wrong way in which you behave. You can be wrong in what you say, but end up doing the right thing. You can be wrong and for the wrong reasons, but what God calls us to do is to be right for the right reasons. To be right, but in the wrong way is to still be wrong. Or you can have all the truth in the world and be completely correct about what it is that you believe, but you have to demonstrate that in a way that shows the goodness of your King.

So it’s not about attacking others. It’s not about maligning others. You’ll see that today that when people can win arguments, they’ll immediately go after character and that is not what God’s people are called to do. And so he’s saying this for such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance. That we bring, this type of change that God calls us too. Don’t react based on how other people act. Act based on how Jesus calls you to act. If you make an excuse to act based on how other people act or to react based on how other people act, you can find any excuse in the world to behave any way that you want to behave.

But for the Lord’s sake, it means that we enter into any relationship, whether it be with government or anyone else where you’re demonstrating something far greater than ourselves and that is our King. How does your King want to be represented in this world? How we believe and how we behave, right?

I know we ask this question a lot, but when we come to government, we look for that loophole, but what if the government asked me to do something that violates my conscience or disobeys God? Well, very simple, the answer for us is Acts 5:29 and Peter answered the apostles, we must obey God rather than men. We must obey God rather than men. Because to take God out of this question, they wanted Peter to stop talking about God and to go live out his life apart from declaring God to people. But to take God out of the equation is to remove the basis for which we do anything as believers. We’ve got to obey God rather than men. But can I can also say, and that doesn’t mean when we obey God rather than men, that we jump to violence as a solution.

If you think about scripture, scripture is loaded with stories and individuals that bring about change within their society based on living in light of who God is. The book of Daniel, first six chapters. Daniel, in his time there was given a law that they couldn’t pray to God and Daniel says, I’m going to obey God rather than men, he continues to pray to God and what happens to Daniel? He’s thrown in the lion’s den. Daniel lives for what’s right. And Daniel also takes his punishment.

I think that’s what makes people like Martin Luther King Jr. so effective is that when he led for reformation in our country for the equal treatment of all people, he didn’t do it with violence. He did it by demonstrating a character that was godly as a servant. Martin Luther King Jr. understood the basis for which we had integrity as human beings, and that is our identity as made by our Creator. And how you behave can influence hearts. Jesus uses that to influence hearts.

We need to help people understand the basis for why we even want to hold to integrity as a human being. What makes things right and why do people have value? If you scream about it, that doesn’t change hearts, and if you remain silent about it, it’s not going to influence either.

I love how Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in Nazi Germany, he said, to not speak is to speak and to do nothing or it is to do something. His point is, is that God has given you a platform to use and in the type of government that we live in, you have a wonderful privilege to make that difference. And then he says this verse 16, act as free men. Do you not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use your freedom as bond slaves of God. Very important to understand here.

What was being argued in this time in Peter’s day is that Jesus gives you freedom in him and therefore, who cares about society, Jesus made you free. Tell the world to just go away and you just show your ugly side and do what you want because you’ve been given freedom in Jesus. And what Peter is saying is, look guys, that’s not godly. Just because you’ve been given freedom doesn’t mean that you should always take advantage of it.

It’s true, Christians are given freedom in Christ, but we don’t take our freedom to hurt other people. In fact, the beauty of what makes freedom free is that people who are free become servants in that freedom for the benefit of others and that sets people free. That’s what Jesus did for us. The only reason we have freedom today as Americans is because others laid down their lives that you could experience it. Freedom necessitates that those who are free lay down their lives as servants to bring freedom to others who are slaves. It’s when you serve others for their benefit that freedom continues.

You know, as Americans, we love our freedom. For example, freedom of speech, and I don’t want to take away that freedom, but I think it’s important for us to recognize that you don’t always have to exercise it either. Because we’re given freedom sometimes we take little accountability for the things that we do. You never have to apologize for words you don’t say. Freedom of speech as Americans gives us a platform to leverage things for the goodness of who our King is. But it doesn’t mean you always have to take advantage of it and you shouldn’t take advantage of it to belittle other people created in his image too.

We stand for what’s right in a way that’s honoring to our King, both in word and behavior. We want change in our government for sure. We want people to agree with us for sure. But most of all, we want to do it in a way that brings honor to our King and brings dignity to the people in this world that are created in his image. God calls us to be a people that makes a movement in this world, but it’s not because we see government as the focus is that we see Jesus rather as our focus. We live for his glory. That’s what brings the change that we desire, when we desire what Jesus desires.

And so we live for that freedom. Galatians 5:13 says this, you, my brothers and sisters, we are called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh, rather serve one another humbly in love. God gives you that freedom as a way to honor him in laying it down for the benefit of others. Use your leadership to influence. In verse 17 this is where I’m going to end. He says, honor all people, love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King.

This is amazing passage when you think Peter is writing to a church going through suffering because of their faith in Christ and what does he say? Honor. honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God, honor the King. A similar passage to this, I think about in Jeremiah 29 where Israel is taken as captives into a foreign land. And the question on their heart and mind is, I don’t know the context of the section of scripture, but the question on their heart and mind is, God, what do we do in this foreign land in which we don’t belong? The Lord says to them, in verse seven he says, seek the welfare of the city, which I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf. For in its welfare, you will have welfare. Meaning, just because people don’t agree with you, don’t seek their demise. Pray that they find freedom in Jesus too. Become a servant and serve their hearts just the way Jesus served yours when you were in rebellion to his kingdom. That’s how you bring change.

I don’t go through all of this to say, okay, now guys, when we talk about submitting to government, you just gotta do what they say and that’s it. Just be silent and take it right. That’s not the point of all of this. The point of all of this is to recognize that when we talk about submitting to any authority at all, the reason we’re talking about it isn’t because of the authority that is important it is because our King who is important and he gives dignity to all people. And in that God has an important place for you to live out this identity of which he has called you to in verse nine. Remember, you’re a chosen people, a Royal priesthood, a holy nation of people for God’s own possession. And what does that mean? That means you are a people who are called to make a difference in this world. And how does that happen? By your submission to this King, as he has called you into this world because his kingdom isn’t of this world, but you represent that King in the way that you live in relationship to people around you, starting with leaders.

I’m going to close with just this thought. We live a Christian life, not by focusing on our government, but by focusing on our King, Christ. And I hope that we see the authority we have in Jesus as an avenue and an opportunity to let her light shine.

But Martin Niemöller wrote a poem, he was a Lutheran minister in Nazi Germany. He wrote a poem, I think it’s the most famous poem that came out of the World Wars and dealing with the Holocaust. And in fact, if you go visit the Holocaust museum in DC, when you walk into the first room, I think this poem is written on the wall, but this is what he said.

First they came for the Jews, but I did nothing because I’m not a Jew. Then they came for the socialists, but I did nothing because I’m not a socialist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I did nothing because I’m not a Catholic. And finally they came for me. But by then there was no one left to help me.

Guys, I hope in looking at this section of scripture that we understand what it’s calling us to is to be a people that make a difference in this world because of the difference Jesus has made in our lives. And it doesn’t happen by reacting based on how other people act. It happens by acting on behalf of the King that we represent in this world and in so doing, the people around us are blessed.

May we be a people that don’t live for the temporal things that will fade away, but for the gospel that endures forever and then so doing may we be a blessing to the people around us.