Every Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence as a nation. At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about “The Fall of the Athenian Republic” some 2,000 years prior. He said ---
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (that is) always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequences:
From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.”1
It is my belief that America is somewhere between the “dependence” and “bondage” phase of Professor Tyler’s definition of democracy; with more than 40 percent of the nation’s population already having reached the “governmental dependency” phase.
In Peter’s first letter to his listeners, he addressed slaves in the congregations, and again he stressed the importance of submission. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a huge difference in “knuckling under” and “submitting.” “To submit” is “to place oneself under the authority of another.” Some of Peter’s readers were newly converted slaves who thought that their spiritual freedom also guaranteed personal and political freedom, which by the way created problems for themselves and the churches.
There are no Christian slaves as we know of in our western culture, at least in the New Testament sense; but what Peter wrote does have application to employees. Peter’s words or message can be applied in this way. Christian employees (like Christian slaves in Peter’s time) are to live as holy Christians in spite of their strong temptation to break free from their low station in life. Christian employees are to be good and obedient workers, even if their employers are cruel or jerks, thereby testifying to God’s grace. They are to give no occasion to slander what God is doing in their lives. If they act rebelliously, they probably will crush any opportunity of reaching many of those they work beside with the good news of Jesus Christ.
“Here, then, is the wonderful truth Peter wanted to share: as we live godly lives and submit in times of suffering, we are following Christ’s example and becoming more like Him. We submit and obey, not only for the sake of lost souls and for the Lord’s sake, but also for our own sake that we might grow spiritually and become more like Christ.
The unsaved world is watching us, but the Shepherd in heaven is also watching over us; so we have nothing to fear. We can submit to Him and know that He will work everything together for our good and His glory.”2
Are you submitting to those over you in order to bring glory to God? If not, why?
1 Christian Clippings, July 2004, 5-6.
2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament Vol. 2 (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2001), 407.