Is that what I heard?
Someone asked, "Why?"
I have to admit that there have been times that I thought that, too....
The reason for submitting to government is this: for the Lord's sake.
What does Peter mean?
I think it will help for us to look up some verses. Even though Peter may not have read the letter that Paul sent to the Romans, you can bet that they talked a good bit! This is what Paul contributes to the discussion:
Paul even says that rulers are ministers of God in this way:
Now, before we get all upset about this, let's look back in the Old Testament, because Peter and Paul both would have been working from their knowledge of the old writings, as well as their knowledge of Jesus Christ. Here is what we find in the book of Daniel:
And since we have talked about some rulers and leaders being immoral and corrupt, did you know that the Creator of all can utilize them, as well? Look:
God gave Daniel these words to tell Cyrus: you are doing what the Lord wants you to do!
God can direct even pagan, Godless men to fulfill His purposes. We can't forget that Paul and Peter both wrote their letters when the horrific, debauched Nero was on the throne! And Daniel lived under the rule of the feared and ruthless king, Nebuchadnezzar. Both of those leaders fell far short of what we would call "ideal," so as my grandma used to say, "it's as plain as the nose on your face" that we have to hold to the biblical principle of obedience -- no matter how bad the ruler may be. (Now, don't get in a swivet.....we will cover exceptions tomorrow!! Hang in there!)
Peter knew that the peeps who would read his letter wouldn't really be happy dancing about the idea of being submissive to pagan rulers....so he wrote these words: "Act as free men and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God." (And just because it says "men" doesn't mean it is just for them -- it is for women, too!)
Our family has always had a love for trains....real ones and model ones. Trains can go really fast or slow or inbetween, right? In fact, a train is pretty free to go as fast as it's engineer wants, as long as it stays on the tracks....hop off and it's standstill time! Human beings are really only free when we obey God...true freedom is living righteously, in submission to Him. So, for the Lord's sake, because He ordained and established government for the good of the human race, we submit to Him when we submit to the civil government.
Lastly, since Christians are identified with God, our submission to civil authority bears a witness for Him. I think when it comes to politics, we can remember that God uses civil government to accomplish His purposes (and it's perfectly OK and even beneficial for Christians to serve in political and civil leadership roles), and that evangelism is His primary way of bringing lasting change. If we are so concerned with political victories that we forget about winning others to Christ, we will ultimately fail in furthuring His kingdom as effectively as we desire.
Peter adds the admonition "love the brotherhood" right after he talks about our public witness. I don't think it is by chance! Of course we are to love our enemies and try to bring them to Christ. But if believers fight with other believers, those who are watching us are likely to shrug and say, "They (believers) are no different than anyone else!"
So it is important for us to show proper respect to all: believers and non-believers, those in civil authority, and those who have no authority to speak of. An old song warbled, "What the world needs now is love," and Christians loving others is a powerful witness. Our submission and respect to civil government is a witness, too.
So we submit for "the Lord's sake."
We'll get down into the nitty-gritty tomorrow.....where does submission to government end, and obedience to God begin?