Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:18-21
If you want to use a word that sparks strong feelings and controversy, look no further than the seventh word in the above passage. See it? Submit. To submit means that we intentionally yield to or put ourselves under the authority of another. As citizens of a nation where our independence is heralded, this concept can rankle.
It rankled Peter’s audience in Asia Minor too, who would have been under the authority of Nero. Yet, Peter tells them to submit. Why? We submit (obey laws, show respect and honor, do our part as productive citizens) when the person in authority over us, be it a boss, mayor, governor, or president is good or evil because our first allegiance as a citizen of the Kingdom is to God.
When we submit, in humble reverence to God, He strengthens us to not only hold up under the pressures around us, and even the struggle within us, but also allows us to shine and bring glory to His Name to a confused and unbelieving world. Submission is how we become ambassadors for Christ because it is by our actions, not only our words, that people take notice of how and why we are different.
If we break the law and hurt others or become dangerous to society, we should be punished. We learn that lesson as small children. But if we are punished for doing right, as hard and unwanted as that is, Peter reminds us that this is commendable before God.
Yes, it is unjust and wrong when authority figures abuse their authority, but even Jesus submitted to the rulers of His day. He had every right to rebel. He was innocent, and yet He silently endured the cross, Now, He is lifted up to the place of honor where every man, woman, and child will one day bow and confess that He is Lord.
When Christ hung on the cross, He prayed for those over Him, and He forgave them. Unjust bosses and rulers don’t need our nasty-grams or backbiting, they need our prayers because only the power of God can change a heart.
This week, take some time to read through the Armor of God passage in Ephesians 6. Pray that God will equip you with each piece as you interact with your boss, and the elected officials over you (mayor, governor, president, etc.). Ask God to guard, guide, and change you, and ask Him to bless those over you in mighty ways.
By Sheila Rennau