“For it is god’s will that you, by doing good, silence the ignorance of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:15 CSB)
Peter has something to say about who we are and what we do. First, he says that we are “aliens and temporary residents” on this earth (1 Peter 2:11 CSB).
That means our citizenship is not here, and we are only here temporarily. That suggests that we have a stewardship of opportunity before us, and that we must take advantage of it for the glory of God.
On this basis Peter went then to the matter of what we are to do as temporary residents and aliens. He offers us several directions we are to follow. First, we are to conduct ourselves honorably in this world. We live in a world that is sometimes not entirely positive toward those who are committed Christians. In some places in our world, Christians are in fact persecuted and even killed simply because they are Christians. Some governments have even labeled Christians as perverted and evil. Peter says that our response, whatever our situation may be, is to conduct ourselves honorably, and to do so with a measure of transparency so that the world can observe the good that we do as believers and glorify God ultimately.
Second, we are to submit ourselves to human institutions. Mainly, Peter has in mind government institutions, since he particularly references the “Emperor” and “governors.” There may be times when we cannot in good conscience do this, as Peter himself demonstrated when he and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin, but as a general principle Christians are to submit themselves to the authority of God-ordained human institutions. Again, with a measure of transparency we are to do good works that are observable so that those who simply are unaware of who Christians really are and what we stand for can see the good we do and, thereby, be silenced.
Third, we are to live as free men and women, and yet, we are not to use our freedom as some sort of “license” or to conceal evil, since that would undermine all of the above.
Peter provides a summary for us in four quick thoughts: 1) Honor everyone, 2) Love the brotherhood, 3) Fear God, and 4) Honor the Emperor. And as we do so, transparency will help others to know more about who we are and what we stand for as believers in Jesus Christ.
Lord, Help us to demonstrate today the work of Your Spirit in our hearts. Amen.