1 Pet. 2:11-20
11 Beloved, I urge
you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war
against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so
that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may
because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day
of visitation. Honor Authority 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake
to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and
the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by
doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free
men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as
bondslaves of God.17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God,
honor the king.18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all
respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those
who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of
conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering
unjustly.20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly
treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right
and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God."
Our behavior among the Gentiles! That is a
question that's been on the agenda as long as the Gospel has been heard
in this world: Is it necessary with good deeds? In other words: Does
Christians have to deal with this? I want to ask you: Would you rather
let go of?
There is both a yes- and a no answer to that question. When it
comes to our salvation there is no need for any works - not one
thing! - the apostle points at that in this passage as you may have
heard just as an admonition: "Act as free men, and do not use your
freedom as a covering for evil." (v.16).
As free! He uses the description free, to those he writes
to. And what will it say to be free? A strange question, right? But it
is necessary to include it. It means to be loosed from all bonds - from
all commitments. If the smallest bond binds you to something, you cannot
be called free! We can also use the expression, guilt free!
Just think about the commitments you have in this society we live
in - towards your parents, your children, all of your family, towards
your employer, or employee, towards the government, taxes and fees etc.
Even though all illustrations limps a little, let us talk about
taxes. One calculated how much tax you would pay in your entire working
life, and ended up with a certain amount. Now, someone had the means to
pay all of this for you, in one go. You were then free from paying tax
for the rest of your life - it was already paid! And the authorities
couldn't - at least with any right - demand it to be paid twice.
But what if this freedom of
yours was an offense for someone? What if the way you used your freedom
led someone to perish? Yes, well it isn't my problem, you may say. "For
why is my freedom judged by another's conscience?" the apostle writes.
(1 Cor. 10:29).
You see, this is how free you are in reality, you who have come to
life in God, by Jesus Christ. But the apostle has got a hold of
something here - he has gotten an insight in something - namely the love
of God that sacrificed everything, for the self-righteous pharisee and
the brutal follower of God's congregation would get saved - therefore it
was completely unthinkable for him to use his freedom like this.
Therefore we see that in the case where the apostle teaches the
believers about how they should behave towards meat, that have been
sacrificed to the gods, that he makes his freedom count. He does not
care about what this meat have been used for - for him there is only one
God, but it doesn't stop there for him. Let us read about what he writes
i this connection: "However not all men have this knowledge; but some,
being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were
sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is
defiled.-Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never
eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble." (1 Cor.
This is how love speaks - which is more concerned about achieve and
saving others than enjoying his own freedom!
We find a very good object
teaching in an event in the life of Jesus here on earth - it is Peter
who is required to be held account concerning the temple tax. "Does your
teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" they asked. He whi is a Jew,
doesn't he pay this tax to the temple? An then Peter answer: "Yes." But
then we want to ask: Did he need to pay tax? That is Peter. Listen to
what happens when He comes into the house, as it says: "Jesus spoke to
him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of
the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from
strangers? "When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then
the sons are exempt."
Here you have the answer to that question! Which is about what we
are talking about now - our subject if you like.
But then notice what Jesus says further on: "However, so that we do
not offend them," - that is, for their sake! - "go to the sea and throw
in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its
mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and
Me." (Mt. 17:24-27).
Listen, you are free not to, but to avoid offense, do it anyway!
You become an example for
others when you do what God wants! And then someone may jump in their
chair - but Jesus warned against this, to walk around and do things to
be seen by men. But that wasn't what i said! I said: When you do what
God wants! When you are concerned about that which is right for God!
And not to put yourself as an example to others! Do you see the
difference here, or are you spiritual nearsighted?
I am free - i am completely free! I am even bought free! If
Jesus have paid for me all the way, what is then left? This has
to be both serious and real for you!
Do you know what happens to me, when i live like that? I get a
really great Christian life after a while? No, at least not in my own
eyes, or my own acknowledgment - i really get a heartfelt need for
Jesus, as the God's Lamb that carries the sin of the world, and then i
get to be happy in the truth that He really is!
It isn't hard to do it then you know - when you are free! To be
able to live in the admission of and truth, that you're really free! But
if this burdens you as commitments that God depends on in your
relationship to you - it becomes very hard. Then you move towards the
law, and it's curse!
Here are those who strive,
because they don't have the light on knowing what's right in these
things, and that is tragic - but more tragic is when people get
satisfied on this road. When they think they manage to create a good
Christian life, and can be examples for others, perhaps even good
examples, even though in their assumed humility don't want to say it
that way. And they don't know that they walk under a curse! They walk
under punishment! They are offenders! You have a whole lot of
rules and commandments you live after - alright, but you haven't done
what the law requires, by that! They don't understand it until this
sword that has hung over them this whole time, suddenly hits them!
"Submit yourselves for the
Lord's sake to every human institution," we read.(v.13).
It was this that has already been mentioned: For the sake of God!
"Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for
evil, but use it as bondslaves of God." (v.16).
You hear that in these verses, submit and do not are used. It
sounds like a new commandment - which means a impalpable demand! But
what about the freedom then?
Where did it go? Again: The one who has the least bond on him are not
completely free! Are you not completely free, by the work that Jesus
did, it isn't a complete work!
We have to go back to the word of Jesus to Peter again to find out
about this: "However so that we do not offend them-" Do as I tell
you to Peter. But first after confirming for Peter that he as a son in
his house is free!
I really get the urge to pray: May
God give us eyes to see!
Holy Bible, New American
Translator: Benedicte Holtan Smart