So what should our response (i.e. not reaction) be to a culture that does not believe they are dying without Christ, or who mock the One who died for them? In 1 Peter 2:17 we read "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.Honour the king." Four commands for a believer to obey. Each of them go against our natural human instinct to "fight or flight". Each of the four commands are inherently difficult. But because they are written in the Word of God...we know them to be the will of God. Therefore, I must obey them. Think about each one for a moment:
HONOUR ALL MEN... This could be translated "Respect everyone..." Every day as a believer you are surrounded by a culture that rejects your Lord and Saviour...and yet God says to "respect everyone". To do this...is a continuous, concious choice. It requires that we continuallly choose to regard sinful men with honor and dignity. Paul adds in Philippians 2:3 to "esteem others better than yourselves." Ouch! Make it your prayer today to respect everyone you meet including those who reject you on the basis of your message and Who you live for.
LOVE THE BRETHREN...I am growing to love this word "brotherhood" more and more as I study it again and again. The love is the same "agape" that describes God's love for sinful man...a love that is unselfish, unconditional, it sacrifices, and it is an undeserved love...and because I have received this from Him I should extend it to my brothers and sisters in Christ...the verb here agains is a continuous habitual practice. Choose today to love your brothers and sisters in Christ Christ loves the Church.
FEAR GOD...Ultimately God is looking at the heart. He knows full well if you and I fear Him or not. Solomon wrote "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7 This is a lifestle choice that is marked by a reverential fear of God. Choose to fear God rather than man. "Do not be wise in your own eyes...fear the Lord, and depart from evil." (Proverbs 3:7)
HONOUR THE KING... This last point is a struggle for many. We recognize God as the ultimate King but it is God who has put in place the authority on this earth of human government...be it the police officer on his beat or the ministry of corrections or the ministry of health...or the Prime Minister himself. And though they may not agree with me, I still must honour them and obey them as long as what they ask of me does not contend with what God requires of me. Then I must choose to obey the Lord alone. (Please read 1 Peter 2:1-14 for more details) But make no mistake...God does desire for you and I to honour the authorities that He has put in place.
Let me conclude with 1 Peter 2:12 "Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when He judges the world."