Devotional for Tuesday, April 14, 2020

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.  Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (I Peter 2:16-17)

The phrase “live as free people” comes sandwiched between a conversation about Christians submitting to “every human authority” (even the Roman emperor!) and Christian slaves submitting themselves to their masters “with all respect.”  Is God political?  And are we really free?

Well, like all politically correct answers, the answer to both questions is yes and no.  But mostly yes.  God is not political in the way humans are included to think about it, and Christians are not free in the way that humans tend to think about freedom, but God is certainly political and we are certainly free!  In the ultimate showdown between the law-(un)abiding Jewish leaders and Jesus regarding tax payments to the Roman government, Jesus demonstrated that human governing institutions should be respected because His kingdom was not of this world (Matt. 22:15–22, Mark 12:13–17, Luke 20:20–26).  Jesus was very explicit of this point when Pilate questioned Him on the matter (John 18:33-38).  This short life before judgment and eternity is not the point of existence.  Jesus’ politics is completely focused on His everlasting kingdom that will come – yes, He will reign over the whole world, but He received the rights to this kingdom through humble trust in, and obedience to, the Father’s will.  Likewise, our freedom is God-centered, not self-centered.  According to I Peter 2:16, we are free to “live as God’s slaves!”  Just as Jesus said that He “can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19), this is what Christians are freed to do.  We are freed from only being able to think about, and try to preserve, ourselves in all its rottenness.  We are not freed to do whatever we want – we don’t have any trouble doing that without Christ’s help!  We are freed to do what God wants, for this is what we could not do before – even those who had God’s law in chiseled stone.  Just as Jesus completely surrendered His will to the Father and thereafter received His kingdom, so we who have truly surrendered to Christ are free (finally!) to submit to God’s will instead of our own and will someday receive our crown and co-reign with Christ!

In a time like this (or any time really), it is easy to become overly concerned with the politics that we live in.  I find myself reading many of the news headlines regarding what the government is doing about the coronavirus as the notifications pop-up on my computer.  Is this my primary concern in life?  Am I worried more about myself or God during the day?  And am I more concerned about what my government is doing than how God is forming His kingdom through me today?  What about you – how are you tempted away from living freely to do God’s will to bring in His kingdom (God-centeredness) in your life and in those around you?  For me, work and food are two culprits.

Posted by Luke Ellison on 4/14/2020