Friday, March 15, 2013

politics and forgiveness

Good morning brothers and sisters,
It's interesting that our reading for today is about obeying the emperor, since March 15th was the day Julius Caesar was assassinated. The reading itself is challenging because it seems to be a total capitulation to worldly power as it is. Peter, Paul and other early Christian leaders didn't feel called to change the structures of power in the world because they believed the world as we know it was moving quickly to an end. Their guidance is wise in that there are things we can't change, and even the things that are wrong provide an opportunity to live and show our faith.

At the same time, we need to take Peter's language of obedience with a grain of salt. When Peter was ordered by religious leaders to stop preaching Christ, he refused to obey. When he wrote his letters the Roman Empire didn't consistently persecute Christians, but when they did outlaw Christianity, he certainly disobeyed that order as well. Living in some form of democracy as we do, our relationship to power is different too. We make the laws, which means we need to bring our faithful sense of justice and creating a better society to our political responsibilities.

Enough of that. The real reason I included this passage is the end, which focuses on forgiveness. We owe our lives to Jesus who forgives us at great cost. Now we are free to live our lives for the sake of righteousness, trusting in God's love and struggling to make that love real for everyone.

God bless,

1 Peter 2:13-25
13For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, 14or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.

21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

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