There is no doubt that our world is becoming more hostile to Christians. Oh, sure, I wouldn't classify it as "persecution". I mean, we're being told we can't practice our faith in some instances, but it's not like other places in the world where they're being tortured and killed for it. I don't even know if it would ever come to that here. But we are long past the days when people thought America was "a Christian nation" and Christian morality was good for everyone. And there are more and louder voices out there calling for our suppression, repression, and oppression. It is undeniable. So, in a world more inclined to "only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21) and rising in hostility towards Christians, what are we to do? Is there a biblical strategy for dealing with this kind of thing? Good news! There is.
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:11-15)
Maybe not what you expected?
First, dear Christian, remember this above all. We are not at home here. In this world we are aliens, strangers. If you're in the business of getting comfortable in this life, you might want to rethink that plan.
Okay, keeping in mind that we are only visiting, what else? "Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul." (1 Peter 2:11) I highlighted the last phrase there because Peter tells not only what we are to do, but why. That is, it isn't "Ew! Fleshly lusts are bad! Don't do that!" No, he says that they are something to avoid because they "wage war against the soul". They aren't merely "evil"; they're harmful. Paul says that the flesh is "waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." (Romans 7:23) Indulging our primal lusts simply twists the brain and enslaves us to sin. That's not helpful. That's not good for us. Instead of indulging lusts, then, Peter says to "Keep your behavior excellent." (1 Peter 2:12) Peter is clear that this won't make people think more warmly about you. They will, for your good behavior, slander you as evildoers. However, in the final account, they will glorify God. And, after all, isn't that our highest priority?
Okay, so far, based on our alien status, we are to avoid indulging our lusts and, instead, live lives of excellent behavior. Next?
Well, of course, next thing we need to do is to do all we can to make this world a better place. Vote out bad people; vote in good people. Change laws in favor of our views when we can and protest when we can't. Make a stink. Make sure we get our rights -- what's coming to us. Right there in 1 Peter 2 ... oh, wait ... it's not, is it? No. It says, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution." (1 Peter 2:13) Wow! Not what we were thinking. He says that after we avoid indulging our desires and live exemplary lives, we are to submit to the human authorities around us. Christian, hear me. That means that we are supposed to submit to President Obama and, potentially, to a President Hillary if God so wills. I knew a Christian that protested when Clinton was elected president. "He's not my president," he told me. "I voted for someone else and he's my president." Setting aside the insanity (We don't each get to have our own individual president; it doesn't work that way.), Scripture tells us that we are not to operate in that mindset. We are to submit to the authority we encounter, whether it's the federal government, the state government, the city government, or your boss at work. Worse, Peter says to submit to human authorities not for their own sakes, but "for the Lord's sake." Big. Really big.
For Christians in a 21century world where anti-Christian forces are killing Christians in some parts and menacing them elsewhere, where the political climate has shifted from being largely sympathetic to Christian views to becoming increasingly hostile to God's people, where the morality of society is degrading so far that following Christ faithfully is classified as "evil", God's strategy, then, is this. Avoid indulging your fleshly lusts; instead, live exemplary lives. Be examples of obedience by submitting to human authorities for the Lord's sake. This will ultimately bring glory to God and silence foolish men.
Was that your strategy?
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