Bible Society of South Africa

Bearers of light in a dark world – 21 April 2022

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

13For the sake of the Lord submit to every human authority: to the Emperor, who is the supreme authority, 14and to the governors, who have been appointed by him to punish the evildoers and to praise those who do good. 15For God wants you to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by the good things you do. 16Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God's slaves. 17Respect everyone, love your fellow-believers, honour God, and respect the Emperor.

1 Peter 2:13-17GNBOpen in Bible reader

Some verses in the Bible really touch a raw nerve! In some countries, it is difficult to obey the human authorities in the place where we live. What should we do when the authorities are corrupt and evil? We should remember that Peter lived in the Roman Empire, and experienced much persecution at its hands. But here he acknowledges the position that God has intended human authorities to take: these authorities are responsible for keeping law and order, by punishing the wrongdoing of its criminals and for those who do good, creating a space to thrive. The Bible is clear that human authorities are responsible for their actions before God.

We are part of an earthly, imperfect state. The state does not always have the same value system as the church that prays that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. We, as believers, often do not have a big influence on how the state conducts its affairs. But what we should understand after reading today’s verse is that we are still responsible to God for the way we act where we live. We are in this world as God’s ambassadors, in the words of Jesus, the bearers of light in the darkness around us (Matthew 5:14).

We are the people that were set free by Christ. Our freedom in Christ is not a licence to do as we please, but to be servants, or slaves, of God. One way of being obedient to God’s commands is when we live a life of love. This world will be a much better place when we heed Peter’s call in I Peter2:17, by showing proper respect to everyone. We are called to truly love the family of believers in a practical way. We should love one another as Christ has loved us – see John 13:34. In this world, we live in a close but respectful relationship with God. To honour him, we strive to be good citizens, be the difference in a broken world.

Prayer: Lord, today’s verse is difficult to obey. I see so much going wrong in the country around me. Help me to be a part of the solution in the broken system of this world. Help me to treat all people with respect, and fill me with love for the family of believers. Amen.

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