Do I have a right to complain? Vol 45
I’m always wary of a sentence that starts out like this…”Let me tell you what I think….”
I’m even more wary when that sentence is referencing some passage of scripture because often, what follows has nothing to do with the truth of scripture, but rather levering scripture to make or forward their point.
FIrst… I am not interested in what people think God meant. I want to (as much as possible) KNOW what God meant. That means digging into scripture and commentaries of theologians who have a history of theological accuracy. And second…if Scripture says we can’t understand something right now…I’m not going to guess at it. For the most part scripture interperets itself. Otherwise when scripture tells us to “Study to show yourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not be ashamed but rightly interperting/understanding the word of truth” God might have given us some other reference material…but the “study” in that verse refers to the study of “scripture.”
OK…I have some friends on Facebook who use FB as a soapbox for their rant of the day. I’m often tempted to unfriend them. Not because I don’t love them but because I’m tired of Christians who are known for their dissent rather than their love. Is that really what God wants? Do we believe that God is sovereign? Do we believe that scripture is true? Do we really believe Peter 2:13-14 where God tells us that by His authority he sets up rulers over us?
If you read Facebook much you might wonder…or maybe I just have outspoken FB friends…
We’re in a study of I Peter at church. I’m really enjoying it. but I’m more aware than ever, mostly through social media, of how far many Christians (including me) are from truly loving the lost and obeying/honoring authorities who don’t know the Lord…and even some of those who say they do. We seem to think that once our leadership makes a move we don’t agree with, we have a right to mutiny. We don’t. At least not if we are going to follow scripture.
If we continue reading I Peter 2 we see that it’s not only about what we believe about the authority that God has set up…it’s about doing good even when the authorities are in conflict with our beliefs. Or even with the law.
It appears (to me anyway) that our first response is to rant rather than love, do good, or pray. We have this need to protest, sometimes violently. We have this need to exercise our rights even though scripture is replete with admonition to “turn the other cheek.” Or maybe you remember when the Roman soldiers used to press civilians into service and make them carry their gear for 1 mile. It was the soldiers right by law. Here’s what Spurgeon says:
Spurgeon explains that…
Governments in those days demanded forced service through their petty officers. Christians were to be of a yielding temper, and bear a double exaction rather than provoke ill words and anger. We ought not to evade taxation, but stand ready to render to Caesar his due. “Yield” is our watchword. To stand up against force is not exactly our part; we may leave that to others. How few believe the long-suffering, non-resistant doctrines of our King!
Why do we feel that unless we protest or complain that somehow God won’t punish sin or accomplish His will in His time. Like maybe if we whine enough, or hold up enough signs and sue enough institutions that aren’t pro-Christian or persecute us that maybe we can convince God to act on our time schedule. C’mon….really? Is prayer THAT ineffective? Does loving people to Christ look that different from the way it did in Jesus’s day? Has God turned a deaf ear to his saints who pray believing? Does the Bible not say in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Should we even get angry over wrong doing and persecution? Sure. But what should our reaction be? March on Washington? Kill abortion doctors? Rant on Facebook? How is that loving others? How is that honoring the rulers that God told us to honor? I don’t think it does either of those things. I think that too often it makes us look like the kooks the world paints us to be. The last half of that verse in I Peter says “So that they will see your good works and glorify God on the day he visits us”
So if scripture is true…it would appear that by our loving and honoring conduct towards God instituted authority we silence the “malicious slanderers and foolish men” (according to Matthew Henry’s commentary.)
Well now…that may put us at odds with authority. But here’s the piece of scriptural mandate that should take the sting out of some of this. “For the Lord’s sake…” Our willingness to follow Christ and obey the rules of the land and authorities (that are far from God) demonstrates and proves our love for God…who also said in I Samuel 15:22 “to obey is better than sacrifice” where the people relied on their own wisdom and what was right in their eyes rather than doing what God had clearly told them to do.
There is safety for the believer in obedience. There is blessing for the believer in obedience. There is joy for the believer in obedience.
As the chorus goes…”Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus…but to Trust and Obey.