I recently ‘enjoyed’ a visit to a court of law to handle a minor offence with which I had been charged. As I sat in the court room with other ‘defendants’ a great hush came over the room. There is something about the solemn atmosphere, facing one’s own guilt/innocence, etc. that generates sober thought. The light-hearted chatter in the waiting area, with people texting, reading, joking and trying to ‘settle’ their nerves, now was replaced by silence.
At the appointed hour, the appointed magistrate entered the court room and of course all stood in respect of the position she represented. This judge was in a great frame of mind, and dealt ‘warmly’ with each case, especially with the young mother charged with another minor traffic offense and seeking to care for three very young children (all under 4).
In Peter’s letter, and throughout the New Testament, there is a respect for the divine institution of government. Though ‘scoundrels’ at times fill political shoes, Paul reminds the Roman church that the “authories which exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13)
Peter urges his readers to
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”
I’m reminded of the place of governing authorities with some in the family working in law enforcement and others learning the fine art of the legal profession! Christians are to be submissive, yielding for the Lord’s sake to those whom the Lord himself has appointed to rule over them. This is not a blindless, doormat-type submission – after all, Peter himself spoke up to authorities in Acts when he said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.”
When governments act in defiance of God’s laws, Christ followers stand with God – but that’s a discussion for another day. Today’s mandated obedience is a yielding to those who wield authority, either supremely as the king, or those appointed by him to a lower ranking wielding of authority.
Christian citizens should be model citizens, paying their taxes, applying for the proper permits, complying with standards (apart from those which directly contradict God’s word). Anything less does not honour God, after all submission is ‘for the Lord’s sake!’