It’s the morning after and many Canadians are suffering from a 2019 Election hangover. Nobody’s really happy with a minority government as it indicates progress for some, regress for others, and distress for anybody who wants to get anything done. As for me, I choose to be publicly non-partisan.
I was nudged this morning to consider that no matter who is in charge of my country, I have the opportunity to follow Jesus with gladness. In his first letter, Peter writes these words:
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV)
How are we to relate to our government leaders? The general posture here is one of deference, which is mind-blowing when one considers who Peter is referring to. The leader of Rome at the time is none other than Nero. Peter likely wrote this letter just a couple of years prior to Nero’s public persecutions. He would blame followers of Jesus for the fire in Rome and launch his campaign of mass arrests, tortures, and public burnings. Nero’s decision didn’t come out of nowhere. Persecution was already escalating against believers when this letter was written.
Followers of Jesus are free. When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. We are free from the power and bondage of evil and corruption. Yet we are still servants of God. We have exchanged the tyranny of sin for a new Master who surrendered his life for us. And so, “for the Lord’s sake” (v.13) we are to live in glad submission under our government as God’s servants. Peter says this is how we serve our ultimate Lord.
I understand that this raises questions and potential exceptions. But the general posture still remains.
Fear God. Honour the emperor. And be glad it’s not Nero.