Monday, October 26, 2020

The Power of the Christian

"For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

First Peter 2:13–17 is a short discourse on respect for governmental authorities, and indeed for all men. The coming of the kingdom means that all earthly orders are going to be overthrown and transformed. Nothing less than complete social renewal is the implication of the Great Commission, to go forth and disciple all nations.

At first glance it might seem that Christians should simply refuse to respect the old carnal and ungodly governments of this world. But Christianity has far, far more power than mere political power. Behind political power stands economic power, and it is money that talks in political life; yet the Bible tells us that neither of these powers amount to much of anything compared with the power of righteous faithful living. Christianity does not settle for a mere revamping of the political and economic system. It settles for nothing less than the transformation of the human heart, which is the fountain of all earthly life.

Christians are called to submit to earthly authorities. Even wicked governments punish most evildoers. Even bad governments provide external order, and external order enables us to live in peace and promote the Gospel. Peter tells his hearers to respect kings like Herod in Palestine and Aretas in Damascus, and to respect the governors sent by the Roman emperor. The Christian does not want conflict with the state because the Christian is busy completely undermining and transforming the social and spiritual realms.

By doing good, we “silence the fool-talk of fools.” To get the full weight of this phrase, we have to turn back to the psalms, which have been the hymns of the church in most ages and which certainly were known through and through by Peter’s readers. As soon as we start into the psalms, we find prayers that God will silence those who attack the righteous with their tongues (Psalm 3:2; 4:6; 5:9). This is particularly a prayer against evil prosecutors and judges (Psalm 2:2–3; Psalms 9–13, 94, etc.). Peter tells us that the incense of our righteous deeds will bring down God’s destruction upon wicked rulers.

Civil government is important for maintaining order and peace, and we should not only pay our taxes but be involved in political life in order to promote godly justice in our land. Are you voting in the upcoming election? Be certain to vote not for personal gain but for those most likely to rule with godly justice and who will best promote biblical values.