Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:17 ESV)
We should fear God, but honor those whom God, who is in control, has put into office to govern us. Sound advice in an election year when most of what we hear, and will hear iuntil November , is negative about the candidates by either the biased media or the opposing campaign. Whether it is the local school board superintendent or the president of the United States, by the time they are elected they have so much mud slung onto them, it is hard to see through it. But God does. So should we.
What is the difference between the Biblical meaning of fear and honor? Honor is respect. You respect the position that is being held even if you cannot respect the person holding it. Just as we remind teenagers to honor their parents and obey their authority even if they disagree with their decisions, so we must honor those who are placed in authority to govern us (and count our blessings we live in a country which allows us to vote for who that should be.) Honor is – Holding up One Now Obtaining Rule – in respect.
But to fear God is more than to respect Him, isn’t it? It is to honor and obey, yes. But, it is more than that. God’s dominion is eternal and all knowing, all powerful and all encompassing. We, on the other hand, can’t at times control our own thoughts or emotions.
I think too often lukewarm Christians abuse their access through Christ and water our Heavenly Father down into a Santa Claus God or an “easy to put one over on” granddaddy figure. We expect God will cave in to our demands if we persist in our whining- like teenagers or two year olds- simply beacuse we have promised to believe in His Son. Then, when they don’t get what they want, they turn away in a humph and wonder why He isn’t listening. Haven’t theyprayed daily, gone to church, volunteered, and read their Bible study, hung a cross around their necks and put a bumper sticker on the car? What more does God want? He wants their fear.
If we are honest, don;t we all get that way now and then? That attitude of demand and supply puts the power on us, not Him. To fear God is not to be afraid of Him but to revere Him, making Him the authority over every aspect of our lives. Fear is – Finding in Everything the Almighty Reigns. (I know a while back I said it was Forgetting the Eternal Almighty Reigns- but that was the anxiety kind of fear that is the opposite of faith – not the reverent fear of God’s power.)
We don’t just obey out of respect, but out of necessity because we humbly acknowledge His authority and His power is vastly greater than ours or anyone else’s. When we do that, we also yield our will to His. We bow to God’s will because He has it all planned out, even if it is not how we wanted it or expected it to turn out. We have faith it is the best.
Of course, that goes for all our choices in life, not just those who will be elected for office in this year. No matter if we make the correct choice or the incorrect one, through Christ there is always a way back into obedience to the Father. We just need to renew our fear and ask for forgiveness. When we do that, it is easier to love the brotherhood and honor those in earthly authority.