Honor Everyone

Hope as Exiles  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:10
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I’ve heard it said that the hardest things to talk about in church are sex and money. And sex is easier.
But they forgot one, didn’t they?
We’re not a politically charged church family. I’m so grateful. Have I told you lately that I love you?
I don’t want to talk politics in the lobby. Why? I’m not sure where you stand and I’m afraid we’ll disagree and I tend to avoid conflict about any topics anyways.
What if you bring up politics with a friend and find out they voted for the candidate you vowed never to vote for? It can be tense.
I imagine we’ve got different levels of engagement with politics in our church.
Some of you didn’t know this last week was Super Tuesday and if I asked you what Super Tuesday was you’d say, “Oh dang did I miss another sale on Amazon?”
I’m admittedly in this group to a degree. I intentionally avoid the news because it’s almost always bad news and written in a way to make me mad. I’m a younger person who cares about the world but I’ve become cynical towards the government’s ability to do anything to change it. I keep politics at arms length and when I engage it’s often to criticize or make fun of it.
Maybe there are some of us who are engaged with politics both nationally and locally. You watched the state of the union in full. You could name Sumner’s City Council members and you made an informed vote on the library.
Maybe some of us are very engaged in the news. You watch cable news or listen to talk radio often and you know where you stand on a variety of issues.
Some vote one direction, some vote another. Some of us cannot stand one candidate, some cannot stand the other.
We’re a mixed group.
And yet, we’re Americans and most would identify as disciples of Jesus. Citizens of the US of A, and citizens of the kingdom of heaven. How do these two identities line up? How does one interact with the other?
If we’re chosen exiles as Peter says, why vote? Do we even need to obey laws when we know that God is the one who’s really in charge? Should we obey laws created by leaders who don’t follow Jesus?
What is our relationship as believers to the government?
How do we represent Jesus in an election year?
How might we live as chosen exiles in 2024?
Fletcher did a great job last week putting us into the lived experience of first century Christians who are shocked to receive a letter from THE Peter.
These men and women were having a hard time. Being a Christian meant being unpopular and misunderstood in Roman society. They were not being violently persecuted, but their society was moving in a direction of outward oppression towards Christians.
Imagine being a part of a house church in Bythinia and Peter says I’m a citizen and God is the true king - but I’m still a Roman citizen, right? Do I not have to pay taxes to Nero anymore?
Imagine being a slave - as a massive number of people were and Peter says I’m free! But like most of the world say I’m a slave - should I just leave my job?
Peter says I’m a part of the family of God - but I’m a woman married to an ungodly man. Should I leave him since he’s not my real family?
We enter an extremely practical section of Peter’s letter in which he answers all these questions.
But specifically in our text this morning of 1 Pet. 2:11-17, he addresses the relationship between believers and the government.
How does a citizen of heaven live as a citizen of earth?
Peter shows us…
1 Peter 2:11–12 ESV
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Notice the first word:
1 Peter 2:11–12 (ESV)
11 Beloved,
Dear friends
What a beautiful transition in this letter.
Peter is linking all he said before with what he’s going to say.
So far
Peter has focused on identity in Christ. You are chosen by God but rejected by the world. Chosen exiles.
Just like Abraham was a wanderer but given the promise of a new land to come. Just like Jesus was chosen by God but rejected by the world.
Peter is reminding these believers that just because you are not being honored or esteemed by society for faith in Christ, that doesn’t mean you are not honored and esteemed by God. Stand firm in your union with Christ as chosen exiles.
And you are beloved.
You have a living hope. You’re the new people of God. God in his great compassion and care for you sent Jesus to die on your behalf and was raised to new life just as you will be raised one day.
Peter says I know it’s difficult, strange, peculiar, and confusing to follow Jesus in a world which doesn’t always share your values. But remember that Jesus calls us beloved. Dear friends. And you’re my friends too.
And so for us today as we move towards passages which tell us what to do,
We have to remember who we are. You are loved. We are friends of the eternal God. We share an intimate bond with King Jesus.
The first two verses act as an introduction for the next section of the letter which is 1 Peter 2:11-4:11.
2:11 and 12 sum up all we’re going to read in this next section.
He’s going to be more specific to say what that looks like in our relationship with the government, with our jobs, and in our families.
But to sum up this section Peter tells them LIVE HONORABLY.
We don’t use the word honor much, do we?
When was the last time you told someone, “I have been dishonored by my boss.”
Son, you have not brought honor on your family.
It’s a word that means GOOD. Beautiful. Useful. Excellent. Why have we ditched this word in our culture?
We’re western thinkers and don’t live in an eastern honor/shame society like Peter and his audience and like most of the world today.
And that’s not because we’re smarter. Living in a western individualistic society has its pros and cons. Might it be a good thing for Americans to consider what it means to show honor?
What does it mean to live honorably?
Look at what he says
1 Peter 2:11 ESV
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
To live honorably is to keep from the desires which wage war against your soul.
What might those be? Things like taking revenge, speaking poorly of others, sleeping around, getting drunk, worshiping idols.
Notice, it is these things which wage war against our souls. Much of this letter is what do you do when someone or something wages war against you. Do you wage war in return? No, you abstain. You remember you are beloved and you follow Jesus you when hit, didn’t hit back, when spoken against, didn’t bite back.
Why should we live honorably?
1 Peter 2:12 ESV
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Peter writes there is a day of visitation coming - a day when God will visit, when Jesus returns - when God will set things right, and we are to live now in a way that when that day comes people will see the weight and majesty of God.
People are to see our good deeds. What kind of deeds are those?
He doesn’t give a full list but in the letter he says things like self-discipline, fear of God, compassion, humility, love, submission, nonretaliation, hospitality.
Notice, do you have to follow Jesus to value those things?
Peter recognizes that non-Christian values of his culture overlap in some ways with those of the Christian faith. This suggests that for Peter there is “no one single proper way for Christians to relate to a given culture as a whole” (Volf 1994: 27). Instead, Peter challenges his readers to live by Christian values and, when they conflict with those of society, to be willing to endure graciously the grief and alienation that will inevitably result.
I think this is so crucial. The Bible is not a book about how we’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys. It’s actually a story about how the good guys often act like the bad guys and how God sent a Savior and how surprisingly it was mostly the bad guys who realized they even needed one!
What does that mean? He’s saying - beloved, live in such a way that even those who do not follow Jesus will say, “Wow, I want them to be my neighbors.” “Man, I wish I had ten of those employees.” “Boy, what I wouldn’t do to have my family care about others like that.” Because even though they may not follow Jesus, they know a good neighbor, friend, employee when they see one.
There is a coming day when everyone in Sumner, everyone in Bonney Lake, everyone in Lake Tapps, even everyone in Fife will see Jesus. And they will give him glory. And so let’s live in a way today - with self-control, kindness, compassion, submission to authority, hospitality - that helps them see Jesus today.
Live honorably.
Not because we’re afraid of culture. But because we’re loved by God.
Not just because we’re better, but because we are beloved.
Not just because we should but to give glory to God.
TRANSITION: So what does this look like in real life, namely when it comes to politics?
Peter dives in -
1 Peter 2:13–17 ESV
13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Peter’s first example of how to live honorably is in the realm of politics and he says - be subject to it, or submit.
He’ll go on to say this to slaves - submit. And for wives to their husbands - submit.
I think that’s all we need to say, right? Let’s pray and go home.
We all love to submit. You woke up this morning just hoping to submit to someone contemplating the joy that would ensue.
Be subject
Nearly every translation puts submit or submit yourselves.
It’s to place yourself under something, to subordinate yourself, to obey.
What does Peter mean?
Well, notice what he does
To every HUMAN institution.
Do you see?
He’s putting human leaders in their place. This is extremely subversive. Whatever ‘be subject’ means it doesn’t mean worship. It doesn’t mean give ultimate allegiance.
The emperors of Rome viewed themselves as divine sons of God. Peter says no, you’re human leaders worthy of respect and honor but only for the true Lord’s sake.
Why? Because Peter loves Rome and voted for Nero?
For this is the will of God, he says. That by doing good - living as ideal citizens - you should silence ignorant people.
1 Peter Christian Witness by respecting Secular Authorities (2:13–17)

The obedience that Christians have to the government is not so much an endorsement of the rulers of this age but an act of devotion to God.

We think the best way to silence people is by posting something or saying some mic drop statement, but Peter says the way you silence ignorant people is by being the most honorable citizens the world has ever seen. Because if they try and say, “Those dirty Christians!” and then see how you’re caring for the poor, loving your neighbor, paying your taxes, they’ll look ridiculous for trying to pin anything on you!
Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover up for evil.
Imagine being a recent convert to Christianity and saying, “I’m free in Christ? Awesome! I don’t need to pay taxes or obey the government!” “We’re free in Christ? Great! Let’s make an army and overthrow this tyrannical regime.”
Peter says no, your free to serve Christ.
In 2024, our sense of freedom is that if I’m free I don’t have to submit to anyone or anything.
But we know this isn’t true. If a musician is free to play great music, they submit themselves to train endless hours. If someone wants to be free to be a parent, they will choose to not be free to do whatever they want. Freedom is not free to have no restrictions, it’s freedom to serve who or what we want to serve.
What does that mean? It means that we are free in Christ and that freedom looks like serving Him through submitting to human government.
Look at verse 17.
1 Peter 2:17 ESV
17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Consider how counter cultural this was…honor Nero! AND, honor your slave. Honor your city council members! And honor your annoying neighbor. Peter puts those in power on the same plane of worth and value as those without power. God has the true authority, therefore show respect and honor to human authorities.
Peter undoubtedly has two Old Testament figures in mind namely Joseph and Daniel.
Joseph was an exile, living in Egypt and far from home but God put him under Pharoah in order to serve Him and bring blessing to the world.
Daniel was in exile, taken to Babylon against his will. He let the government change his name, he took a government job, he served the very government who killed and enslaved his people. And yet he also said I won’t bow down your statue. Daniel submitted but gave his ultimate worship to God.
Peter has these men in mind as he gives these instructions to his readers.
But Chris, the world today is so much worse than it was in Peter’s day.
Leaders are far more corrupt. The evil that our government promotes is far more heinous. Social media has made the world crazy. Peter wouldn’t say submit to us if he knew how bad it is today.
Do you know who was the emperor when Peter wrote this letter? Nero.
Imagine with me a leader so self-absorbed, so corrupt, so compulsive, that he would literally instigate a fire that would burn for 3 days and wipe out 71% of Rome just so he could build a bigger house.
Then imagine such a leader blaming already unpopular Christians for the fire, making them scapegoats and then lighting THEM on fire. A leader so cruel, evil, corrupt and a pyromaniac. Peter says HONOR him. Obey him.
If anyone had a right to be afraid of what was coming down the pike for Christians it was Peter. He doesn’t say, “Fight back!” He doesn’t say, “Take back the holy land!” He says, “Obey him. Submit to him.” Why? It’s God’s will.
But Chris, this is just one passage. Why give so much weight to just a few verses?
Romans 13:1–3 ESV
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
Titus 3:1–2 ESV
1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
But Chris, “Are you saying we are supposed to obey the government no matter what?”
Great question I’m so glad you asked. No.
Peter himself and the other apostles go against the command of local authorities in Acts 5 when they’re told not to keep preaching and they say we must obey God and not men.
Maybe you say, “What about Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Bonhoeffer was a Christian who felt called by God to assassinate Hitler. Aren’t there times when we are to rebel when the government crosses the line?”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a more godly man then I will ever be. And yet I think that whatever call he heard from the Lord did not come from this passage.
Yes, Peter did rebel in Acts because they told him to stop preaching. But by and large 99.99% of the time, the way we bring glory to God is not by establishing a Christian state, but by living as Christians who submit to the state. Guys, it’s the reason we asked you to wear masks for a long time. This passage.
What about the civil rights movement, pro-life efforts, equal pay for women, things that we want to see changed in the world, how do we bring the kingdom to earth if we’re only submitting?
Submitting in a democratic society doesn’t mean don’t protest with civility. Look at what Martin Luther King did in the civil rights movement. We can push back with kindness and respect. I think Christians working for social justice can be motivated by 1 Peter because he wanted all people to be honored and we as Christians are to pray and work for that in our world.
And that’s his point - we bring glory to God when we honor everyone - even the government.
But it’s hard to honor everyone, isn’t it?
To speak well of everyone. To work for the good of everyone.
Example from Brothers K
“Roger Maris takes a ball, then a strike. His hair’s so short the sides of his head look like wads of skinned chicken meat, and there’s dark bags under his eyes, and he’s incredibly sweaty and nervous-looking. I usually like watching home runs, but there is something about Roger Maris that makes even his homers boring. I don’t hate the Yankees like most people, so it’s not that. I just don’t care to watch Roger Maris. Everett feels the same way, only worse. Everett says he’s from Mars, which is why he’s named Maris, so maybe it’s a racist thing. Whatever it is, it worries me a little, because one of the things Jesus used to say was to love everybody the same way whether they’re geeks, Yanks, Wops, Micks, Meredith Starrs or what have you, and when I look at Roger Maris I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to pull it off.” - The Brothers K, David James Duncan
TRANSITION: How does Peter expect us to pull this off?
Is there someone that when you picture them, you think, I can’t pull this off?
How can we?
Through the example and power of Christ
John 18:1–11 ESV
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Peter thought - I will glorify God by picking up my sword!
Jesus knew to glorify God he had to put down his sword and pick up his cross.
Jesus did what we couldn’t do - he submitted to evil humans and suffered evil form humans and didn’t hit back in order to go to the cross and defeat the real enemy - sin and death.
The real enemy is not Nero, it’s not Trump, It’s not Biden. It’s Satan, whom Peter calls a roaring lion looking to devour you. And Jesus beat him on the cross and through his resurrection.
Peter’s model and power for life is Jesus.
He honored everyone - even the government - when we did not.
He chose to submit when it made no sense.
He glorified God when we try to fight for God.
He waged war against the real enemy - Satan and sin and death - and defeated them on the cross so that we can be free.
Application -
A powerful way to share Christ in 2024 is by speaking well of politicians who won’t receive our vote and of people who don’t agree with us.
What an amazing opportunity we have to bring glory to our Jesus.
When that neighbor who has that sign in their yard or that flag outside, comes up and starts talking about politics and everything in you cringes, you smile and say, “Bob, man the world has issues, doesn’t it? What a good reminder for me to pray for our leaders today.
When your friends start complaining about Trump or your friends start making fun of Biden, you say, “I imagine it’s hard to be in the limelight. They need our prayer. Want to pray with me now?”
When we see a headline come across our news feed about that politician saying some crazy thing, we stop, and rather than send it to a friend and say, “Can you believe this guy?” We stop and say, “Jesus, please help our leaders be instruments for human flourishing rather than evil.”
When your Christian friends start complaining about how evil and vile the world is, you do what Gene did as he preached a few weeks ago, “You know, I’m just trying to be the best citizen of heaven I can be.”
When you’re tempted to post something in reply to an article because you’ve got the perfect comeback that will put your aunt in her place, you just lock your phone and go for a walk.
What would happen if we did that?
What an amazing opportunity to bring glory to God in 2024.
Money, sex, politics…hot button topics if there were any on a Sunday morning.
But Peter invites us to see how we live as citizens of heaven as citizens of earth is to honor everyone as a way to give ultimate allegiance, loyalty, love, and affection to the true King.
1 Peter Honor the Emperor

O Master … give harmony and peace both to us and to all who inhabit the earth, just as you gave it to our ancestors when they called upon you in a holy way, in faith and in truth; and allow us to be obedient to your all powerful and virtuous name, and to those who rule and lead us here on earth. You have given them, O Master, the authority to rule through your magnificent and indescribable power, that we may both recognize the glory and honor you have given them and subject ourselves to them, resisting nothing that conforms to your will. Give to them, O Lord, health, peace, harmony, and stability, so that without faltering they may administer the rule that you have given to them. (1 Clem. 60:3–61:1).

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