Summary: Christian submission to authority: 1) the command for submission, 2) the motive for submission, 3) the extent of submission, 4) the reason for submission, 5) the attitude of submission, and the 6) application of submission.
The Motto of the Dominion of Canada is from:
Ps 72:8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
And we sing this every time we sing our National Anthem when we say:
"God keep our land, Glorious and free".
For the majority of Canadians today, the calling of virtue is classified as "Victorian" like the name of the Queen that we remember this weekend.
This week, a Toronto lawyer, Charles Roach, who wants to become a Canadian citizen, but refuses to swear allegiance to the Queen, has won a key battle in his effort to change Canada’s citizenship law. He was Born a British subject in Trinidad, coming to Canada in 1955. His desire is to become a Canadian citizen. He is currently a permanent resident. He is seeking damages of $5,000 for people, such as himself, who have refused to swear the oath, and for others who have sworn it under duress.
Mr. Justice Edward Belobaba, an Ontario judge, ruled this week that there is a plausible argument that this requirement [to swear the oath] violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." "There is nothing in the Constitution Act that requires a Canadian oath of citizenship or that a new citizen must swear allegiance to the Queen," The oath "is simply the consequence of an ordinary federal law that can be amended or repealed by the federal government, or as here, can be the subject of a constitutional challenge," he wrote. The ruling means it can proceed as a possible class action. (Story by Joseph Brean from National Post, Thursday May 18, 2007).
For the audience of 1 Peter, allegiance to the sovereign seemed absurd. Peter wrote his epistle in the last few years of Emperor Nero’s wicked rule. Nero came to power in 54 A.D. at the age of seventeen and committed suicide fourteen years later. During the reign of this emperor, Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome, so he could make way for his civic redesign plan, he fed Christians to lions in the Coliseum for sport, and dipped them in pitch, impaled them on poles, and lit them ablaze to illuminate his garden parties. Peter himself met martyrdom at his hand, outside Rome.
How do you find your attitude to those in authority, in this case political office? Today, we are rife with distain for authority. From teachers to police officers, from politicians to pastors, we exist in a time of increasing cynicism, distain and mocking of anyone in authority. As a result teachers face death threats and assaults, we require more and more police to manage violence, politicians face open mocking and pastors are often just regarded as ultimate hypocrites. Isn’t it interesting that the distain flows downward. Children see parents mock and ridicule those in authority and then those same parents find that their children fail to listen to them.
In this passage, full of imperatives, six elements of Christian submission to authority emerge: 1) the command for submission, 2) the motive for submission, 3) the extent of submission, 4) the reason for submission, 5) the attitude of submission, and the 6) application of submission.
1) THE COMMAND FOR SUBMISSION
1 Peter 2:13a Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, (ESV)
Please turn to Acts 4
Although we are not ultimately under human authority, God still expects believers to submit to the human institutions He ordained. He wants them to demonstrate godly character qualities (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-7) and a genuine concern for society"a concern that seeks peace (3:11, cf. Ps. 34:14, Matt. 5:9, Rom. 14:19, James 3:18) and desires to prevent trouble and crime (cf. Rom. 12:14-21). To that end Christians are expected to obey all laws and respect all authority, unless called upon to do something God forbids or not do something He commands (Acts 4:19, 5:27-29).
Acts 4 speaks so clearly as to the nature of persecution, the impact of Good works and communal rejoicing:
Being arrested and put into custody (4:2) by the priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees (4:1)
Acts 4:13-21 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, "What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name." So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. (ESV)