I mentioned in an earlier blog that sometimes Christians live as if God were an upgrade to their lives.
The result of this is that they pretty much continue to live as they did before but they add on a few things. They add on church. They add on Bible reading and prayer. And perhaps they get rid of a few “bad habits.” But other than that, they live the rest of their lives pretty much as they want to live it.
But God is not interested in being an upgrade in our lives. He’s interested in being our Lord. And he’s not interested in making us “better.” He’s interested in making us new creations, people who are the very likeness of his Son, and who represent him to the world. And so Peter says,
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (12)
Those words are very reminiscent of Jesus’ own words when he said,
Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
As Christ’s servants, we are his representatives to the world around us. We don’t merely represent ourselves anymore. We represent him. As a result, God cares very much about how we act, because what we do reflects on him.
One of the chief ways we represent him is how we relate to authority in our lives. Do we have proper respect for the authorities that God has put in place, particularly government officials? According to Peter, we must (2:13-14). Why?
For it is God’s will that by doing good that you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. (15)
When we disrespect our government, thus showing a lack of respect for authority, it reflects poorly on us and the God we say we represent. Even worse, we do so in a very public manner. Paul was mindful of this even when he was on trial and unlawfully struck at the order of the high priest. (Acts 23:2-5)
But Peter’s key point is found in verse 16.
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. (16)
In short, yes, you have been set free from the rules and regulations of religion. But your freedom should never be an excuse for sin and for living however you want to. Why not?
Because we are not our own. We were bought with a price. (I Corinthians 6:19-20). And now we are servants of God himself. So let us live that way.
How does that look? Peter tells us.
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (17)
How about you? What kind of representative of God are you? When others see you, do they see him? Or do they see only you?