April 13 – Church and State – Submit to Authority

Read 1 Peter 2:13-17

Having been through a very unique previous 12 months where all of us looked to leadership positions like the President and health officials for direction, your perception of these elected officials and various government agencies might have shifted. Based on your religious or political beliefs, you likely thought there were some really good things our leaders did and also some decisions that didn’t line up with your personal beliefs.

Today’s reading is a very direct, non-gray area explanation on how we, as believers, should respect those leading our country, states, and cities. Peter writes that we should “submit ourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (v.13), not because Peter was Republican or Democrat, but because God had determined that those in leadership positions were permitted to be in these roles according to His plan and deserve our respect. Does this mean we have to become un-opinionated and agree with whatever elected officials believe? Absolutely not! Our moral and belief standards are always held up against the Bible…which includes 1 Peter 2:13 in today’s reading, making this verse challenging for many followers of Christ, including myself. 

Further on in the passage Peter says:

“…live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover up for evil; live as God’s slaves”.

Pretty strong wording here, considering our culture today where certain terms can be offensive. What is Peter providing us guidance for in this verse? One of the great freedoms we have in this country is the right to free speech…the sharing of our opinion through social media, in public, or in a written editorial. The “human authority” leaders established this as the 1st Amendment in the Constitution which should tell us how important they felt free speech was to all people. Even with this freedom, we, as Christians, need to pass our free speech through the filter of the Bible before we post, speak, or write that article about how a government leader is an unqualified individual or doing a horrible job, even if we think that internally! In the second part of that verse, we should be as “God’s slaves” submitting to Him as the ultimate authority above and beyond any human leader on this Earth. 

What can we, as followers of Jesus, do to influence others around us about the respect for authority positions? It starts with prayer in each of us, myself included. It’s very easy to disagree and complain about government leaders, but, when you are tempted to post that rant about a certain president or governor, keep in mind that our God allowed him or her to be in that position of leadership over us. Instead of attacking their policy or leadership style, let’s pray for them to have God’s influence in their life and decision making.

Only God has the power to change the hearts and minds of our country and leaders!

Drew Hilty

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