Summary: As Christians we are called to be living witness.
Living So All Will Know
Text: 1 Peter 2:13-17
1. Illustration: Five year old Brian was impressed by the story of Simeon the Stylite, a Syrian hermit who lived in the 5th century. This man was admired as a saint because he lived for more than 35 years on a platform atop a high pillar. Determined to follow Simeon’s example, Brian put the kitchen stool on the table and started his perilous climb. When his mother heard some strange sounds in the kitchen, she came in, and shouted, "Brian! Get down before you break your neck!" As the youngster obeyed, he muttered, "You can’t even become a saint in your own house."
2. Jesus said...
a. Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
b. This is the duty of every Christian; to be a living example of the Gospel to everyone we meet.
c. As Francis of Assisi said, "Go out today and preach the Gospel, and if you must use words."
3. Today we are going to examine two responsibilities we have as Christians...
a. Being Good Citizens
b. Being Good Neighbors
4. Let's stand together as we read 1 Peter 2:13-17
Proposition: As Christians we are called to be living witness.
Transition: First, let us examine...
I. Being Good Citizens (13-14).
A. To Every Authority
1. One of the great things about true Biblical preaching is that it exposes us to portions of Scripture that we find uncomfortable. This is one of those instances.
a. It is not very popular in the church or in social media to teach about submitting to the authorities.
b. Whether we like or agree with those in power in our government is irrelevant; what matters is what does God's word tell us to do?
2. Peter tells us, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority,"
a. The word "submit" is a compound verb from the Greek words hypo (meaning "under") and tasso (meaning "to order, place, appoint").
b. While it is often inaccurate to determine meaning from the roots of a word, the roots here do give an adequate determination of the meaning of the verb: "to order oneself under, or according to, a given relationship," or "to live according to the governmental order."
c. Peter was speaking of Emperor Nero, a notoriously cruel tyrant who ruled from a.d. 54–68. The emperor was the supreme ruler over all Roman provinces—including the areas to which Peter addressed this letter.
d. The emperor Nero was considered the supreme authority by his subjects, even worshiped by them.
e. The Christians should never worship the emperor, but they should obey his laws because he was an authority put in place by God (Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 1111).
f. Clearly here the notion of "submitting" to the government is secondary to obeying God and to doing his will, because this group of subjects (the church) is "free."
g. That is, even though the Christians are "aliens and strangers," they are to live in the order that God has ordained.
h. Furthermore, for Peter and the entire church, "submit" does not imply total obedience, for the Israelites and the early Christians participated in civil disobedience when the demands of society overrode the demands of the Lord.
i. Peter exhorts the believers to live in submission "to every authority instituted among men."
j. His exhortation, then, is that Christians, in spite of their relative freedom, are nevertheless to live according to every sort of governmental order. The alternative is chaos.
k. Christians are not to submit to the governmental authorities because of the native authority of government or because governmental officials are particularly charismatic. Rather, they are to submit "for the Lord's sake" (McKnight, The NIV Application Commentary – 1 Peter, 143-145).
3. Peter goes on to say, "or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."
a. The local governor is one who has been "sent by him [the emperor] to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."
b. That is, the local governor has derived authority and exercises it in a moral direction.
c. Governors had more responsibilities than these two concerns (obviously), but Peter's concern is with the need for Christians to be good people so that the judicial arm of the governor is not raised over the churches.
d. They must remember not only that their governor has authority to punish, but also that he can honor them for their good deeds.
e. Thus, "What starts off, then, as apparently a lesson in political passivity culminates in an injunction to take an active role in society" (McKnight, 146).