The Christian and His or Her Government
I Peter 2:13-17
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 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. And Honor the king.
Let’s face it, even if we find it difficult to admit, that without a government, there would be chaos. The rules, regulation, laws and ordinances brings freedom. Even in a government that rules with terror there are laws that bring freedom that allow the society to function. Governments also bring infrastructure which eases travel and promotes safety in police and fire protection. Therefore, Peter says, let the Christian cooperate with the government and submit to its will.
Although governments are manmade institutions, they are ordained by God, which I know is a difficult concept understand as cruel and ruthless as many governments have been.
Paul in Romans 13 make the point of the divine permission by which earthly rulers exercise their power, but stresses the human aspect of their authority. Therefore the Christian should not use force against established authority. Peter admonishes us as Christians to discharge our civic obligations not from fear of punishment, but because of the precept and example of his Lord while on earth. Jesus complied with civil regulations, even submitting to injustice rather than rebel against established authority (see Matthew 22:21; 26:50-53).
Is there is an exception. When the rules of the government interfere with the worship of the true God then we are free to disobey the laws of the land.
Let me be clear, Peter is not saying you are free to riot or commit murder, but you are free to worship God has God has directed he should be worshiped.
The book of Daniel gives us two stories that illustrate what God requires of us and how we are to react when other say we shall not worship as God has directed us to worship Him. The first when the three friends of Daniel were thrown into the firry furnace because they refused to bow down to another God. Even when that god is an image of another god or in honor of another person (see Daniel chapter 3).
The second story comes three chapters later when Daniel chapter six, a plot was connived to discredit and do away with Daniel by making it against the law to pray to any other entity except the King. Daniel chose to disregard the law and continue worshiping the God of heaven.
In both instances, God miraculously spared the life of His faithful followers, in the second story Daniel and in the first story of Daniel’s three friends.