Daily Devotional: 1 Peter 2:13-15
Today is the first day of our state’s shelter-in-place order from the governor. The governor has issued this order to keep COVID-19 from spreading further. We have already been restricted from gathering as a church for the past two Sundays. For most of us, we have never lived in a time when the government would make such extreme restrictions, personally or as a church. How should we think about these restrictions as followers of Christ?
1 Peter 2:13-14 instructs us as believers to “be subject to for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” The word “be subject” literally means “be under obedience.” There is no doubt that God intends for Christians to submit to their governments, since not only does God establish government (Romans 13), he means for Christians to live out their Christlikeness by respecting earthly authority. Why? Verse 15 says, “that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” Outsiders often accused Christians of wrongdoing, because their devotion to Christ subverted the society's morality. However, it is precisely the Christian’s obedience to government, whether paying taxes or abiding by regulations, that displays our understanding that God holds all authority and that governments administrate only as extensions of his rule, whether they know it or not!
Sometimes, as believers, we’re forced to choose between obedience to Christ and obedience to earthly authorities. In every one of those times, our faithfulness to God supersedes all other allegiances. In our current situation, however, churches are not being singled out and persecuted. Instead, our local and national leaders are making an effort to stem the spread of a rapidly moving virus. Keeping all gatherings from coming together makes up an important part of their strategy. As Christians, we can comply with these rules as an example of obeying God from 1 Peter 2 and Romans 13, as well as exercising love for our neighbors, particularly those who are most vulnerable to this disease.
Friends, let us truly “live as people who are free,” able to rightly submit to our government’s rule as we submit our whole lives to God. Let us honor those authorities, but always remember that we fear God, and him alone.