The book of 1 Peter was written by the Apostle Peter to the Christians who had been spread around the world due to persecution. Though they had all suffered great persecution, as had Peter, he encouraged them to live godly before men so that they could see God revealed in their lives (1 Peter 2:12).
In verse 17 of 1 Peter 2 we are given a succinct description of what a Christian’s role in society is to be. There are many other points that Peter makes in this book and chapter, but these 4 roles sum up nicely how we are to relate to those around us.
1 Peter 2:17 “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
Honor All Men – Our Relationship With the World
The main thought of this chapter is to live in submission to the authorities around us. Beyond obeying laws and rules we should strive to live with respect and honor towards others around us. We should see people in the same light as God does—made in His image because He loves them.
God created us because He wants to have a relationship with us. The Bible is written so that we can know God. He loves us. Yet, when we do not respect and honor others because of the Creator who made them in His image, then we are not showing respect to God.
This does not mean we need to accept the sins of others. Far from it. God will not stand for sin. It will be punished. Yet God calls us to love those around us. Love them enough that we are willing to share with them the joy of knowing God’s son, Jesus Christ, as our Redeemer. If we are hiding our Savior we are hiding Him from those who are lost and most in need of Him (2 Corinthians 4:3). There is no greater way to honor the unsaved than to share with them the precious news of Jesus Christ.
Love the Brotherhood – Our Relationship to Other Christians
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Do you love your Christian brethren? Do you love the church that Jesus established?
If we are to live according to 1 Peter 2:17 then we must live with love and in harmony with God’s children. There is nothing wrong with having your own group of friends with whom you would rather spend time, you should be in love with everyone in the church. Begin with the people in your own congregation. Learn to love them for who they are in Christ. Extend that out to other Christians who may not dress like you do or listen to the same music.
This does not mean you blindly accept everything that comes along and claims the name of Christ. We should be wise in what we accept (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1-5). But we also should not push genuine Christians away just because they part their hair differently. Separation is necessary due to doctrinal differences, not because of petty preferences.
Fear God – Our Relationship With God
The concept of fearing God is wrapped up in the idea of respect and terror. When you know who God is and understand His authority and power then you certainly can see where genuine fear is warranted. But when we accept Christ as our Savior our relationship with God changes. We have a respect and love for a God who knows who we are before Him through His Redeemer. The terror you have or the love and respect you feel to God depends on your relationship to Him.
It is like our reaction to a violent lightening storm. If the storm is happening around us we tend to have an understanding of the power and destruction that it brings. Yet if we are miles away and see the lightening from a distance we can appreciate its beauty. It all depends on our relationship to the storm as to how we perceive it. The power of the storm is the same in both cases, but our relationship to it determines our reaction.
When our relationship with God is not what it should be then we develop a deep terror of God—as we should. Yet, when we are living righteous and holy lives then we see God as a loving father who has great power, but we see it as power to protect and love us. God’s power is the same in both cases, but our relationship to Him determines our reaction.
Honor the King – Our Relationship to Authority
When we obey authority we are living in a pleasing way toward God. He established the authorities around us (Romans 13). We should live with respect and obedience to their laws and regulations. As long as God has not expressly said otherwise (Acts 5:29), we should live in obedience to the authority that God has placed around us. Why? It goes back to verse 12 where Peter tells us that living in such a way will bring glory to God and point more people to Him.
Obviously there have been bad governments throughout history, yet the principle still applies that we should obey and honor the government whenever possible (Acts 4:16-18).
Have you ever heard of a young person who says that they want to join the military because they are tired of their parents rules? They want to go from one authority to another. They think that the rules will be different and therefore easier to obey. What they fail to understand is that obedience is a matter of respect and attitude, it rarely has to do with how easy or hard a set of rules are. How will these young people (or you) respond when God asks them to obey Him? If they won’t honor the authority that He has placed over them, then they probably won’t obey Him either.
How is your relationship with the world, your brethren, God and the authority around you? Peter tells this group of persecuted Christians that they should live right in these four relationships.
King James Version Bible, (KJV)
Youtube.com- Video “Get Service” by user Judahben05