Adapted by our team from Pastor Louie’s Message, The Fear of God.
Have you ever wondered why it can sometimes feel like you don’t belong?
Wondered why there is tension in your life between what you know God wants and what the world seems to value, or why the way you live your life looks so different from the way your co-workers, neighbors, and even family members? What if there is a simple but perspective-altering reason?
That’s what God intended.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:11-12
God has placed you exactly where you are; on display—living among the lost. At your company or in your school, you may be the only representation of the Gospel that people encounter daily; the only reference point that they have of what it is to be a Jesus-follower.
That’s our call, to be above the fray; outside of the anger, fear, division, angst, and negativity that trips us up.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:11-17
In other words, be different. And as you are different, watch how your life influences others’ lives for the good of the world and the expansion of the Kingdom. So how, how do we distinguish ourselves on planet Earth?
- We show proper respect to everyone
- We have an overwhelming love for the brotherhood of believers
- We fear God
- We honor the King
We guess that one of those tripped you up. After all, most of us don’t walk around day to day talking about how we love to fear God, but all four of these things only fit together when they hinge on that very idea.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Even the criminal being crucified next to Jesus knew this, asking of the mocker, “Don’t you fear God,” before he heard those beautiful words from Christ in response to his faith, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Fearing God, having the proper-sized respect for Him, His authority and power is the actual line of demarcation between the true Church, and those who simply come to church. Yet, as we dig into the text, this is not a call to live oppressed under a terrible heavenly ruler: We guess that one of those tripped you up.
Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
1 Peter 1:7
See who we are calling upon, not a crushing authoritarian, but a father, one who wants us to live in freedom. If anyone can speak to this, it’s Peter. Peter, who, while living under the fear of MEN, denied Jesus three times in his darkest night. The same Peter who walked with Jesus, who watched His death, who heard about and ran to the empty tomb, witnessed the ascension and was in the upper room as the Holy Spirit descended. This is the Peter who is writing to you today, calling on you to concern yourself with rightfully fearing God.
A few chapters later look at Peter’s attitude when, after being imprisoned for preaching, freed by an angel, and then confronted once again by the High Priest and officers of the law:
The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!
It’s counterintuitive to our times, but in this text, Peter is respecting authority and fearing God. He didn’t break himself out of jail, God did that, and he didn’t try to escape when the authorities would later have him flogged; in fact, he celebrated being counted worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus.
Said another way, this time by Jesus, Peter gave to Caesar what was Caesar’s, but he did not stop preaching because that is what God had called him to do. At the end of his life, the emperor who Peter is inviting the believers of his time to honor would put him to death. Still, Peter never capitulated and prioritized fearing man over fearing God.
Could you do that in the face of real danger? Do you have an elevated faith, one that says, “I don’t know how everything will work out, but I know God is working out everything?” Have you lost the incredible wonder of your Father in Heaven who gave the life of Jesus for you? Can you walk with the peace of God that allows you to submit to and respect the World’s authorities while never giving up your fear of God? Can you be a peacemaker because you have peace? Can you bring unity to division because Jesus gave His life to bring you back to God across the greatest division?
This is so radical, so different from how the rest of the world lives; sewing dissent to grasp what they believe will give them a temporary satisfaction from the chaos. This is how we will be light in dark places, how we will be a shining example of Jesus to a world desperate to know Him.