We’ve heard about standing up for our rights. We know the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing such freedoms as speech, assembly, and press. I am thankful for a well-crafted constitution and for inalienable rights as a citizen of America. But because each right has corresponding responsibilities, let us look at our mandates from heaven as people who carry two passports. Those surrendered to the King take responsibilities more seriously than rights. We live as citizens of a foreign kingdom, here for only a brief time. We obey the following commands:
PRAY FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS LEADERS.
“First of all then (sounds important), I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (I Tim. 2:1-3). Much of the talk about our government does not please God. I wish that I had prayed more for President Obama instead of criticizing him. I was not pleasing the Lord. The BEST way to impact government is to pray for it. James said that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (1:20). What does? Prayer, especially corporate prayer in public worship What if even a fourth of our churches obeyed this? We would see a radical change in government!
HONOR THE LEADERS
Scripture calls us to give “respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7). We might say, “Right, and honor is not due some of our leaders.” Peter doesn’t let us off the hook. He says, “Honor everyone,” and that includes those in the other party. He goes on: “Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:17), even though Nero was not honorable. We honor the office, if not the person holding it.
SUBMIT TO THEIR AUTHORITY.
Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). Peter echoes Paul’s outlook: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (I Peter 2:13,14). What if we disagree with the leaders? Peter and Paul did not agree with much of what Nero did as emperor in Rome during the decade of the 60’s. Nero was responsible for the death of them both. And yet they called for submission.
LIVE GODLY LIVES.
Peter writes, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (2:15). Our example will win more than our exhortation. We speak with our life more than our lips. Who we are brings the credit of heaven rather than what we say. Too many words are flying around these days. Character is convincing–like honesty, integrity, humility, and love. God help us!