Apr 14, 2023 Keeping a Rule That Has an Exception – Words of Grace – April 14, 2023
“But what about…?” is a question we ask when a general rule is put before us. Asking that question can be a way of clarifying the rule to obey it better.
1 Peter 2:12-17 tells us to be subject to the government. That is the rule. Christians are called to obey the law. Why? “For the Lord’s sake.” This means that there is a purpose for keeping the law that is above the law itself, which is to bring glory to God. This also means that when a law of government directly prevents a Christian from obeying God, then for his sake we obey him. This the exception to the rule.
Examples of the exception to the rule are in the Bible. In Exodus 1, the midwives feared God and did not kill the male babies born to the Hebrew women as the king told them to. In Daniel 3, the Hebrew men did not bow to the gold image as the king told them to, nor did Daniel himself obey the king and cease to pray to God (Daniel 6). The Apostles made it clear that when the authorities commanded them to stop speaking about Jesus that they must obey God and continue to proclaim in his name (Acts 4 and 5). And Hebrews 11, which has been called Faith’s Hall of Fame, includes people who obeyed God rather than human authorities.
So, there is an exception to the rule. Obey the law of the land except when doing so would be a direct violation to obedience to God. The rule and the exceptions take wisdom to appropriately apply to the situations that Christians may face as citizens. But asking the question about the exceptions should always be for the purpose of greater clarity on obedience to God and submission to the law, not to avoid keeping the law in the name of obeying God.
In Peter’s command to be subject to the government, we see that the thrust of his teaching is about the rule, not the exception. With the “But what about…?” question asked and answered, we now focus on obedience to God by living under the laws of the land.
Christians are free in Christ, not for the purpose of covering up the evil intent to throw off submission to laws, but for the purpose of serving God by keeping the law as citizens (1 Peter 2:16). And along with serving God, they also silence the slander of those who falsely accuse Christians of doing evil (1 Peter 2:12, 15).
Keeping the rule that admittedly has an exception is the calling of Christians. We may not think this is an important aspect of our discipleship now but settling the issue now may be helpful in guiding us at some time in the future. This Sunday at Grace Community Church we will consider these things.
Join me in prayer this weekend for God to be glorified by the faith, hope, and love of Grace Community Church.