This next chapter in Peter’s first letter covers two hot topics: getting along with each other and getting along with the government. We always have to keep in mind that outsiders are watching us. They’re watching how we behave. They pay attention to how we react to situations that are beyond our control and to those that are. Christians are called to be model citizens. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then this chapter should be yet another call to attention.
1 Peter 2
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
Living Stones for God’s House
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.
5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the Scriptures say,
“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”
7 Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.”
“He is the stone that makes people stumble,
the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
Citizens of Heaven
Because of our salvation, we are citizens of heaven. Yay! That means this world is not our final home as we discussed yesterday. However, we still need to live in it until God calls us home or the rapture happens and He comes to get us — whichever comes first. This means we have to live in harmony with each other. The more we try to put this world — anything of the world — first above Jesus, the worse it gets.
We can’t be just “Sunday Christians”. I was like that for a very long time. Many times, even after I was saved and baptized, I wanted to keep one foot in this world and one in the Kingdom. It doesn’t work. Until you surrender your WHOLE LIFE to Jesus, you are going to be in conflict with the Holy Spirit and that is a constant feeling of guilt that’s impossible to live with.
What is Peter talking about when he says to “crave spiritual milk”? That means…
- Reading the Bible daily
- Worshiping Him regularly — not just on Sunday!
- Meeting regularly with other Christians
- Praying often
Respecting People in Authority
13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king.
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
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.
22 He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
24 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.
By his wounds
you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.
First, this by no means condones slavery. Peter was writing at a time when 50% of population of the Roman empire were slaves. Some were treated better than others.
The hot topic here is respecting governmental authority. I’m not going to get political, yet. That’s coming in a few weeks. However, we, as Christians are called to respect the government positions whether or not we like the person sitting in it. Governments are made of sinners and sinners are going to sin. Paul writes about this in Romans 13 which I’ve covered here.
Going Against the Government
What happens when the government unjustly goes against the church like is happening now in many states. We find that the early church had problems with government leaders.
19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”Acts 4:19-20 NLT
In the next chapter we read…
29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”Acts 5:29 NLT
What’s different in today’s world is that the American government was created with checks and balances so that one branch — executive, legislative or judicial — doesn’t have too much power. When a governor of a state puts mandates on churches that they cannot meet, yet lets casinos open, the church has recourse in the judicial branch. You can read more about this in this article on religious freedom by Dr. Jim Denison.
Paul tells both Timothy and Titus that we need to pray for our government leaders and submit to them — respect them…
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.1 Timothy 2:1-2 NLT
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.Titus 3:1 NLT
Some Questions For You…
From part 1…
- What is keeping you from reading the Bible daily?
- Are you building your life upon Jesus or something (or someone) else?
- What is your response to God’s grace as a gift to us?
- Do your actions reflect God’s love for humankind?
- Does your attitude toward others manifest the presence of Jesus?
Regarding part 2…
- How does your submission to authority at your church, in your home, at your workplace, and to the government reflect God?
- Do you pray for those in authority over you?
- Are your respectful towards government leaders that you don’t like or agree with?
If you don’t know how to pray for the government authorities, here’s a website that will help… Praying for the Government.
The more you get into the Word of God, the faster your attitude toward the world will change.
Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!