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Friday, July 03, 2015

Honor the King

Honor the King 
Honor the King
I’ve done it myself. I’ve ridiculed a person in authority. Based on these verses, and the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) such behavior is wrong. We aren’t certain about the time when Peter wrote, telling his readers to “Honor the King.” (Some translations say “Honor the Emperor.”) But, no matter which king or emperor he had in mind, he wasn’t talking about a political authority who was friendly to Christians. Some Roman Caesars expected to be worshiped as if they were Gods. They presided over an occupied Israel. Roman soldiers had officiated at the crucifixion of Jesus. Some of the Caesars had Christians executed in various humiliating and painful ways. Some of them forced Christians to worship in secret. Peter might have been referring to Nero, who is said to have used Christians as living torches at his parties. These were not nice people. Yet Peter said to honor and respect them. So did Paul.

Jesus said, in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, that we shouldn’t call other people fools, or equivalent words, and there may be a punishment, the most serious one, if we disobey this.

So what does this mean for today? It seems to me that it means just what it did to the early Christians. We are to honor and respect the President, the Supreme Court, the local school board, the mayor, and people in other such positions. It was wrong for a popular cartoonist to present President George W. Bush as a bedraggled, empty helmet. It is wrong to produce, or share, caricatures of President Obama as a monkey, or to call him an idiot. Those are just examples of wrong behavior. There are a lot more. You don’t have to go far on Facebook to find some related to President Obama. You won’t have to go far to find Internet and TV material ridiculing and dishonoring whoever becomes our next President, from whichever party.

What about the coaches and players and cheerleaders and fans of my team’s most despised rival? Do I respect them, do I honor them, do I acknowledge their skill and intelligence? I should treat them with respect, too.

Do we have to root for the other side? No. Do we have to agree with everything an elected official does? No. Do we have to vote for them? No. Can we disobey them? Yes, if it’s done respectfully, giving due honor, and for a sound Biblical reason.

Thanks for reading.

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