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Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is 1 Peter 2:13-17, where the Bible says,   

13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.


This section of the Scripture (verses 16-17) contains the theme verse of the LCRL. It summarizes how we are to live as God’s people, as people of faith in Him in an increasingly “faith denying” world. That takes wisdom, courage, perseverance, and a real love for others that flows from our faith relationship with God. And, I’ll add, that this is what we need in this world NOW more than ever. Peter is talking about “living as people who are free.” And that theme even today appeals to Americans, Christian or not, because words like freedom and liberty stand foremost in many peoples’ minds as the hallmarks of democracy, principles that makes America, America. Our earthly freedoms here are meant to protect us from oppression and tyrannical government, but for Christians, such freedoms challenge us to put such freedoms to work in living our life in Christ faithfully in service to our families and neighbors in God’s name, without coercion. What a way to live.  

While America’s “civic-political freedoms” are a blessing from God. God promises much more in the life of freedom that comes by faith in Christ. It’s a different, ultimate freedom in the forgiveness, life, and salvation that comes through Christ alone. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ set people free in a way that the world never can. This freedom is a gift from God to all by grace, through faith, for Christ’s sake. So, thank God for our temporal freedoms, yes, but never forget that they are meant to be used in service to God’s gift of eternal freedom for all in Christ. “Live as people who are free,” Peter says. And, never forget that when your freedom comes from faith in Christ, nothing in this world can take that away.

It’s important to remember too, that these “two freedoms” are meant to be received and put to work. The Scriptures teach that people have been set free from their sin (eternal freedom) to serve one another “freely” in love now. That love is freely given, without coercion. That love honors the truth and moral framework of God’s Word. That freedom is even willing to honor the “powers of this world for the Lord’s sake,” even in a faith-denying world, so that all people might come to know the only freedom that lasts. It’s incredible when you think about it, that epistle of 1st Peter was written originally to Christians living under a government that was persecuting Christians. Peter’s epistle teaches Christians how to live in a sinful, broken world even to the point of being willing to suffer for righteousness, to serve as Jesus served and to love as Jesus loved. Living today, not under the power of the Caesars, but in the freedoms of America’s representative democracy, we have even more ways to undergird the “sphere of the Caesar” even as we proclaim the mission of Christ’s Church.

So, when talking about “faith living in a faith denying world” always remember first and foremost that God is at work to preserve this sinful world even as He saves it in Christ alone. He calls His people, who are set free in Christ, to love and serve His way, in His Name, for others.

Now, freed by Christ’s forgiving love, motivated by the freedom that comes by faith alone, in a country that provides Constitutional freedoms and protections to speak God’s truth in love to bless others in His Name, let’s use these freedoms as servants of God. What a way to live!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us a clearer and clearer sense of how you are at work in the world, to preserve it and to save it. Help us never forget that your preserving work is important, but always penultimate to your ultimate saving work in Christ. May we grow in wisdom to be faithful to both your preserving and saving work in service to those whom you bring into our lives, so that they too might be blessed to trust you in all things, AMEN.

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