For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:15-17)
The Holy Spirit is surgical when it comes to text and context. Many passages are listed in a specific order to emphasize a certain conclusion building upon one another drawing the mind to the absolute truth of God’s will. The Spirit does that through the writings of Peter. God’s will is the subject and focus of the passage for today. Being a good example before all men is the need to allow the light of Christ to shine for others to see. The Christian is bound as a slave of God to obey His word, His will, and His truth without reservation. First, honor must be given to all men. Second, the relationship of God’s people toward one another will show the world the disciples of Christ are united. Here comes the tough part: the king must be honored, respected, and recognized as one in authority established by the word of the Lord. This clause does not defer to noble and righteous leaders or seek a distinction between personal preferences in rulers, kings, presidents, or prime minister. The will of God demands the Christian honor the President of the United States. Why? Because they fear God!
Before the Holy Spirit tells the first-century saints to honor ‘Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus’ (his full name), He tells them God must be feared. Nero was known as a tyrant who lived an immoral, ungodly, and decadent life. Little if any of his life characterized righteousness at any level but he was the ruler of Rome and Christians living under his rule were obligated to honor him as their king. This did not suggest complete obedience to Nero without consideration of the will of God. Peter and the apostles established during the first persecutions that all Christians must obey God rather than men when the law contradicts the will of the father. Jesus honored Caesar by paying taxes. In so doing the Lord was not approving the life and morals of Caesar. Peter reminds Christians to honor the king because they feared God first.
It is hard to remember the object of the spiritual mission is to serve the Lord first when the world seems to be crashing down around the hearts of God’s people. Leaders are put in office who allow for the murder of millions of babies. They support and defend the repugnant lifestyle of homosexuality and pornography. Laws are added that remove God and the Bible from the consciousness of society. Religion is ridiculed and men and women with religious convictions are berated as fools. Individual rights are torn from the pages of civility with ruthless abandon. Churches are increasingly being scrutinized for what they teach and condemned if what they believe is against the norm of society. It is not the world of Nero but the present-day landscape of America.
The post-election Christians must face some harsh realities. The world is not moving in the direction of God. Society as a whole continues to move away from a faith in a Creator, the sanctity of the Bible, and the respect for religion. This is not a new philosophy that has suddenly appeared in the last fifty years. Someone remarked how bad the world has become. Folks, the world has been bad and messed up since Eve took of the forbidden fruit. There was a time in America when most people respected and honored God. Presidents prayed and read the Bible. Those days are long gone and may never return. Leaders in Washington have become more hedonistic in their corruption of character than ever before with platforms that deny the holiness of God. The word of God has not changed. Children of God fear God and honor whoever sits in the Oval Office because that is the will of the Lord. Be thankful that for the present time the church of Christ has not been forced into the corner of decision regarding laws forbidding the preaching of the word or assembling for worship. That day will come. But even then, obey God first and always honor the king. Above all things – pray. And pray hard.