Being a Good Neighbor
“13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 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.
15 It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. 16 For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. 17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17 NLT
Peter continues his letter and moves to urge the early Christians to be good citizens that submit to their government. It is worth remembering that in his day, there was a group of Jews known as Zealots, who would recognize no king but God, and as such, refused to pay taxes and wanted to lead a violent uprising to the overthrow the government. While they were fervent in their beliefs, they were not seen favorably by those around them because of the presentation of their message.
It is also important to remember that Peter wrote this letter in the days of the Roman Empire when there was no democracy or government that was voted or elected in by the people. The Jewish people were ruled by the Roman monarchy which meant everything was dependant on what the King said. The Roman monarchy, by the way, was not a friend to Christians at the time.
In spite of this however, Peter recognized the authority of the government (provided the government laws did not contradict God’s laws). Peter recognized in his letter that a Christ follower must be a person that others want to follow because he (or she) leads by example. Peter knew that people would not listen to or follow a leader who had zeal but lacked integrity, so he was sure to point out that it was not good enough only to put on a religious façade while in fellowship with the people of God. The church needed to develop integrity with all those around her.
Like Paul in 1 Timothy 3, Peter called the church to have a good reputation with those outside of the church. Peter knew that the conduct of the Christ follower was not only a witness to others it was also a strong way to defend the Gospel from attacks from the outside.
What type of example are you living in your community and workplace today? Are you living an example of integrity or one of complaining? Are you respectful of everyone and loving your Christian brothers and sisters? I heard a challenging question once posed, “If you were put on trial today for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Holy Spirit, empower an increase in integrity for Your church so that we might grow and nurture a strong reputation and example from those around us so that more can be won to Your Kingdom. Amen.