This Wisdom Seems Simple Enough, But Why Don’t We Live It Out?
Honor everyone. We understand the value of this idea. It is related to the great wisdom: “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” This makes perfect sense to us. It is perfectly logical. We can imagine the benefits that such behavior would have on us and on society. Why, then, do we not do this?
Love the brotherhood. By this Peter means our fellow Christians. We understand the wisdom of this phrase as well. It is right to love those who love God. It is right to love them as our brothers and sisters. They too have come to Jesus. They know their need for his mercy and forgiveness. They have been baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. As Christians we understand that our truest freedom is in serving God and one another. Why, then, are there so many divisions among us? Why do we not love our Christian brothers and sisters the way Peter suggests here?
Fear God. Again, we understand that fear of the Lord is a sign of wisdom. The Lord is to be feared for he is just. He knows our inmost thoughts. He sees everything we do. We cannot escape his awareness. We know deep down that, “..there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17) And yet we sin. We go against God. We turn away from the wisdom that is the fear of the Lord. Why?
Honor the emperor. This one will get a rise out of most of us today, especially in our current political election season. The rhetoric concerning government today is not friendly, or honorable on either side of the political spectrum. There is much about government that is troubling. But this is because politicians are sinful human beings, just like each and every one of us. They have the same inner struggle with conscience that we all do. They are as susceptible to ignorance as each of us is. They share in the same dilemmas of freedom that we do. Why would Peter suggest this then? He is writing to Christian communities who are suffering persecutions under the state at the very time he is writing to them. Could the Holy Spirit be suggesting that if a critical mass of we Christians were truly living our Christian citizenship, honoring everyone, loving the brotherhood, living in the wisdom of the fear of the Lord, others might see the benefits and the values of such behavior and be moved to change their ways? Might it be that if we were all living the way Christ commanded us to, we would be a positive influence even on those who govern us?
Lord, it is our growing faith in you that enables us to honor everyone and to love one another as you loved us. It is our fear of losing your love and mercy that makes us wise in our Christian conduct. It is your grace that empowers us to do all of these things in your name. We ask that you continue to fill us with your grace so that we can serve you in all things. In you we put our trust. In you alone we put our hope. Make us conduits of your love. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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