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 2:13–17
This passage in 1 Peter is specifically about the importance of submitting to those who are in positions of earthly authority to us. Governmental leaders, masters and husbands are specifically identified, but believers are also told to “show proper respect to everyone.” We are to submit because, in so doing, we potentially win souls for Christ. It is important to submit to others because God loves them just as much as he loves us, and our reverent submission shows them that we are figuratively willing to die for them, making Jesus’ actual sacrifice more real and believable.
To submit means “to yield oneself to the authority or will of another.” I’ve got to tell you, I’m not awesome at yielding, myself. It’s a pride thing. I, like so many in our culture, want to assert myself, and I do not want to give way. If you’ve read much of my writing, you know that I frequently find that driving brings out the worst in me. It is a litmus test for my soul. I hate bad drivers. I hate it when cars drive on the shoulder in heavy traffic to pass everyone else who is waiting their turns. The other day I got a kind of sick joy when the car in front of me pulled a trick to try to get ahead of other cars and ended up behind me. Yeah, serves him right. You see, I’m not good at yielding.
Because I know I can be a horrible example of Jesus’ love when I’m behind the wheel, I have decided I will never put a sticker of a fish, an ancient symbol of believers, on my car. I’m pretty sure, however, that intentionally concealing my Christian identity so I can continue to have a bad attitude isn’t the right solution. How about this: a heart change. What about being an example of “purity and reverence” (1 Peter 3:2), even when it’s difficult. And this, of course, does not apply just to the road or to the specific examples given in our Scripture passage. In encounters all through my day, I know I’m called to yield to others, loving them the way Christ loves us, putting them first, even when it’s hard. All who have experienced God’s saving grace are called to love in this way. My mind is racing with areas of my life where I can make this change. I will need to pray for God’s help, but most importantly, I must put Christ’s sacrifice at the front of my mind and heart. He’s only asking me to do for him what he has already done for me.