Why do I obey my bosses at work (in my case a principal, student life director, and superintendent)? Is it simply to avoid getting lectured, disciplined, or fired? Why do I obey traffic laws when I drive? Is it just so that I won’t get a ticket and be forced to pay fines and higher insurance rates? Why do I submit myself and my family to the leadership of my pastors at church? Is it only so that people will think that we are good Christians and church members? No. Rather, as 1 Peter 2:13 says, I submit to those whom God has placed in authority over me for “the Lord’s sake.” I obey my leaders because Jesus tells me to obey them. I submit to them as a way of submitting to my God.
To flip it around you, why do you submit to the authority of your parents? Is is simply to get them off your case or so that they will give you what you want? Why do you obey your teachers and coaches? Is it just to get their approval, better grades, or more playing time? Why do you follow the school rules at NRCA? Is it just to avoid pink slips and detentions? No. If you are a Christian, then your reason for submitting should be the same as mine. You obey your leaders because you want to obey Jesus. And you want to obey Jesus because He suffered and died for you. He saved you from your sins and repaired your broken relationship with the God who made you. We love Jesus because He first loved us, and one way that we show our love for Him is by following His example of submitting to authority. He obeyed His Father all the way to cross. He showed us the way of submission. He calls us to follow Him.
The Text (1 Peter 2:13-17)
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 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. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Background and Observations
• Except for REALLY strong-willed people, it is usually easy for us to submit to a leader’s command or a rule when we agree with it. The real test of submission is what we do when we don’t agree with an order or law. Remember that Peter is writing to Christians living under the godless, often anti-Christian Roman government of the 1st century AD. If God could use Peter to tell His people to obey an evil authority like that, how much more should you find it necessary to obey the rules of your parents and school leaders who support your Christian faith? As long as an authority figure is not asking you to violate a direct command of Scripture, you should submit to the order with humility.
• Peter reminds us in verse 16 that while our salvation has made us free from the penalty and power of sin, the cost of that salvation is a life of submission to Jesus Christ. Our Lord and Savior has set us free, not so that we would return to our sinful and disobedient ways, but so that we would gladly live a life of obedience to Him. We traded unwilling slavery to sin for willing service to Christ.
Questions to Think About
1. Can you think of a recent time when you obeyed a command or rule from a parent or teacher that you did not agree with? What happened? What was you attitude like before and after you obeyed? How did your submission affect your walk with Christ?
2. Are there any areas in your life right now where you are struggling to obey your parents, teachers, or other authority figures? How might today’s passage affect your perspective on this area of disobedience?
3. Why do you think that God wants us to obey our authorities? Why do you think that obedience is so important to God?