Our Witness in the World (Chapter 2 Verses 11-25)
The Apostle Peter goes on to inform us as to how our relation to God, what he has brought us into and made us, how it should affect our relationships with people (vv11-12). Even though we are viewed with suspicion, as strangers, foreigners in the world (v11). Our life-style should be of such quality, that even though they wrongly accuse us, when God pays a visit, their mouths will be stopped. Now you see the early Church’s witness was a powerful, dramatic evangelistic enterprise, proclamation (Acts 4.33; 5.42). The power of their preaching and love demonstrated the Spirit’s presence, gained them favour with the people, and the Church was added to (Acts 2.47). You see they were not cultish. A huddle nobody knows who or what they are, or what they do. They were open, transparent, the gospel drew people right across the then culture. In one sense they were very ordinary people amongst ordinary people, but who lived lives that were attractive, beautiful (Titus.2.10). Yes there were praise gatherings, there was open-air preaching, one-to-ones in evangelism, but first and foremost there was service, service in and to the community. They were liked, admired, people could see they had something, and they wanted that something, that is evangelism.
They were shown respect, but part of that was because they showed respect to others, the local and national authorities, as well as ordinary people (vv13-17). Those attitudes that are so important, and that are noticed and caught. This is the equivalent to Paul’s teaching (Romans 13). Now recall to mind who Peter is writing to, and the reason for his writing? He is writing to Christians who are by this time suffering in the extreme under the persecution of Nero’s government, and here is Peter telling these Christians of the duty, the submission that is due to this governing body? No anarchy. No rebellion? This government was a God-ordained authority (Romans 13.3-4). It was put there to deal with issues of law and order (v14). These Christians are to make sure they live on the right side of that law, they are not to be a law unto themselves (v14). That is God’s will for them (v15). No that doesn’t stop them serving God, it means they live in the freedom given them by God, freedom to obey him and his word, even at this point. Freedom brings responsibility, it is never a cloak for doing evil (v16). All round respect from top to bottom (v17; 1.17). That is a commodity missing in today’s society, and often in the Church too.
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)