Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1Peter 2: 17 NRSV
Honor everyone - check.
Love the family of believers - check.
Fear God - okay, I'll do my best - check.
Honor the emperor - say what???!
This verse gives some guidelines for believers of Christ to live peacefully within the Greco-Roman world. To honor others, love the community of Christ, and even fear God are good guidelines which I can agree with. But to honor the emperor- not sure about that one. In those days, one didn't just honor the emperor, one worshiped the emperor. Just to honor him would not cut it in their society at all. For the Roman world, if you didn't worship the emperor it wouldn't matter if you gave him any honor! Today, most Christians could honor their civic leader but there are some real exceptions to that and I think many Christians would have to decline.
It is interesting that one should fear God but not the emperor. Were the martyred Christians honoring the emperor at their deaths? What does one do when the fear of God negates honoring the emperor? What should we do today when our fear of God creates friction within our world and our society? How can we maintain a fear of God when the world is so much with us?
God, we tend to rub the world the wrong way when we follow You. Please give us strength and courage to continue to journey in Your Way. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims