Free Slaves

November 22, 2021

For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 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. It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Respect everyone and love the family of believers. Fear God, and respect the king. 1 Peter 2:13-17 NLT

Just like us, the Jesus-followers in Peter’s day lived with much chaos, uncertainty, and risk. They lived under political agendas that were hostile to them. Fickle and volatile leaders were anything but kind to Christians. Christians faced continual verbal harassment (even being labeled as cannibals because of their practice of the “body and blood of Jesus” in communion), were fined over made-up charges, and threatened with persecution.

Sounds like grounds to stand up and fight, right? Don’t Christians have rights too? There’s no way God would approve of His followers being treated this way, right? That’s not the way it went though. In a flip of what most of us would think was reasonable, Peter calls them to submit to their human authorities—for a very specific reason: “For the Lord’s sake.” Peter says that though they are free, they are slaves to God, and sometimes obeying Him is hard. Sometimes it feels like you get to have no control or input into your own destiny. We all have heard from many Christians who have felt this way during the pandemic over the government mandates that have come down. For many it has felt like it’s time to stand up and push back against the government. Some have advocated very hostile behavior and have used harsh and inflammatory language in urging others to refuse cooperation.

Peter might ask a question: What if this is an opportunity to grow in character? What if we are to be very careful with our words and actions? Peter tells us, “It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.” There are many things we don’t understand about life today, but we do understand this: God works through humble servant hearts. Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant (John 13:3-5). When we are secure in our relationship with God, we can submit to God and His ways even when we don’t understand. “Fear God and respect the king.”

  • God, this is perhaps one of the most confusing and difficult areas of life to be like Jesus. Please help me slow down and make sure my responses are honorable, ones that bring You good attention, not bad. Nudge me when I get off track. For the Lord’s sake, amen.