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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

12-05-24 - RIDING SHOTGUN -1 Peter 2:13-17



With 14 others on board, we were geared up for a great day of salmon fishing far off the shores of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island. We set sail in 2 vessels of good size, their masts extending high into the sky.  The swells were slow rollers but before long their height was enormous – so high that when we descended into the trough of the wave, we lost sight of the trailing vessel’s mast.   


But after enough dips and peaks, losing sight of the mast wasn’t the only thing most of us lost.  Our stomachs, paying no attention to our seasick patches, expressed their displeasure and revolted. And revolting was the word for it again and again until there was no more substance to the revolt.  Our ‘conquer the sea’ macho reduces us to whimpering babes.  Now who cared about the fish we came to conquer, we just wanted to go home to where all was safe and calm. 

Who could have imagined that seasickness could be this awful? With every pitch and roll, I wondered how I was going to survive the remaining hours of the trip that had only just begun.

For those of you who have ever experienced motion sickness, you know what I am talking about.  Your mind telling your body – “keep control” and your body saying, “in your dreams – not going to happen”.  And in this case, mind over matter didn’t win.  As a point of reference, one of the individuals on board offered the captain a legitimate offer of $25K to take him back.

Why?  Because motion sickness, especially when it can’t be escaped is really, really unpleasant.

It happens when our eyes focus on something that isn’t moving while the vehicle we’re in, IS moving.  As a young boy, I remember many interrupted car trips to the Okanagan when the not moving argued and lost to the ‘is’ moving.  The good thing was eventually that battle gave me full rights to ride shotgun.  As if my brothers were going to argue, given the alternative. 

When we suffer from motion sickness it’s because there’s a conflict between REALITY - what our inner ear experiences (we’re moving) and IMPRESSION – what our eyes PERCEIVE (I’m stationary).  As a result we get disoriented.  It’s the difference between perception (of that which is not true) and reality (which is true) that gives us motion sickness.  

A remedy to motion sickness is to gaze towards the horizon in the direction you’re travell-ing.  In other words to overcome the false perception of “standing still” you need to fix your eyes on that which is REAL, that we’re moving to what’s ahead.  Because if we don’t lock in on a reference point that tells me ‘destination straight ahead’, we are in for a whole lot of disorientation and sickness.  Without that reference point, a lot of what we see and a lot of what we feel ends up getting us into a whole lot of mess.

Nowhere is this more true than in the portion of Scripture that we are looking at this morning and where we are looking in a few of the coming weeks – namely in the matter of submission.    Before we get there, let’s ensure a couple of front seat horizon imperatives.

Our first imperative speaks not to the horizon but to where we sit relative to that horizon.  If you like, whether we sit shotgun where we choose a clear view of the horizon or whether we sit back seat allowing the things around to distort then determine what we feel and think.  

That first shotgun view of where we sit is what we focused on last week where Peter gives us in 1 Peter 2:11-12, Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation where we are again reminded that we are travellers in this world – literally that we are sojourners and exiles who are on our way home.  In other words, that while this is the place we currently call home, it isn’t.  It was never intended to be.  

Understand, we are to live well while we are here – engaging and enjoying life but we are to live well in view of where our real home is.  If you are in your 20’s and 30’s, this ‘other home’ seems so ‘out so detached from real life.  After all, your preoccupations and this is well and good, are finding a life partner, raising a family, and pursuing a career.  But for those of us on the other end of the time spectrum, we know the exile life Peter speaks of is far briefer than we ever imagined.  So what he is saying, is live with a shotgun view of where your home really is, understanding the places in which you invest, and the priorities in which you engage.

Peter’s second front-seat observation is that we know that our exile life will at times, come under attack • from those who ‘have and want’ no other home than what is here with its lifestyles and its values, and from those on the journey with us but who have lost sight of where they are going and so their values and loves are more here than there.    

Both perspectives, forgetting who we are and getting distracted from who we’ve been called to be, can stir up a war within that drives us to join them and take a backseat view where we get fuzzy about the values we choose, the priorities we live for and the One we serve. 

Because the ever-present question of an alien people is IDENTITY -who we are and who we are meant to become. Identity determines whether we are transformed from within or whether we are shaped from without.

The challenge is this – do we live as people who are indistinguishable from the world or as distinct people who Jesus reminds, Are in this world but not of it? Jn 17:6,8  Now before going past this too quickly, notice, I said we’re to be distinct - not different and not removed.  That is to say, that our lives are to be actively engaged in our world in attractive and compelling ways.  Attractive in how we relate, attractive in how we love, attractive in how we reach out so that our presence draws people in, not walls people out.  Nowhere is this more true than who we are a church.  We are not a club where only people like us are welcome to come.  We are to be a hospital where people can come and be healed, where they can receive a new heart and enter a new life.  Not by validating where you are but disease removed, to live as one made new.  

This sets the stage for the portion of Scripture we want to settle into this morning and very frankly, for some of the issues Peter raises, we find ourselves in the back seat feeling somewhat nauseous because of what he has to say.  Let’s read: Submit yourselves to every human institution, for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.   Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Simply put, what he raises about submitting to authority is hard.  REALLY hard.  Hard because it goes against our nature, never more than now when all sorts of authority are under attack.  

Now, once more, before we get too far into what God is calling this to mean for us, let’s ensure that we have a crystal clear view of the horizon Peter wants us to see.  Because if we miss this, we are in for a very disturbing ride.  If we fixate on Peter’s use of the words, ‘submit and authority’, we will soon be in trouble because those words have been used in a way that is a far cry from what Scripture actually teaches.  Often guised in Christian teaching, submission to authority has been used to control and suppress.  I am well aware of the harm this has imposed and some of you have been the recipients of that pain.

But be careful, don’t let that pain take you away from the third, and most important horizon imperative – we live for Jesus. He is the One we serve. He is the horizon on whom we fix.  :13 Peter instructs, Submit for the Lord’s sake and in :15, he tells us, This is the Lord’s will.

This from the pen of Peter – impulsive, opinionated, take charge; an, ‘I do it my way’ individual.  Hardly, a ‘Yes’ man pleaser or a man inclined to submit.  But he learned that his individualism, and his, ‘I orchestrate my world’ came up empty.  He learned that the call to submission, the call to lay aside his rights, was first and foremost a submission to His Lord.  

But Peter is clear, this submission is not reserved for church altars or things ‘Christian’ rather it is submission lived out in the market place.  A submission that hits pause then full stop before the “SEND” button is pushed on that invective filled e mail before it hits  someone’s inbox.  It’s an ‘attitude delete’ before that Twitter response is written; a pull back from engaging in verbal tear downs of that political leader or the employer for whom you work.  It’s a submission of what we say, what we write and what we think. In short, a heart that submits - For this is the will of God.

There aren’t a lot of references to the Lord’s will or God’s will in the NT but here we are clearly told what IS God’s will - to submit to the authorities over us.   

Good thing because we need to know that the idea of submitting comes from God because there is nothing in us that naturally likes to submit.  In fact, our culture tells us the opposite.  Demand your rights, assert your position, raise your voice, pursue your power.  

Quite the contrast to the life God calls us to as Peter notes, we are to be subject to, submit to the authorities over us.   And with that we struggle, simply put, because submitting is hard.  Really hard.  It is a poor fit for us because of our pride.  

The word used for submit is huptass; meaning "to arrange under” - a military term that describes best functioning.  In other words, the depiction of an army that operates under command to fulfill the mission to which it is called. And as God’s people, we are on mission.  

Don’t miss how this is rendered, “Submit yourselves.” Peter is telling us that submission isn’t something imposed, it’s surrendered.  An action - our will surrendered by choice not power.

So two things to note:  1st - biblical submission is NOT my will enforced over you  It is NOT power.  It is NOT demand, You submit or …  In fact, when we find ourselves demanding that others fulfill our dictates and bow to our desires, we are acting outside the will of God.  As we will later see, in the husband wife relationship where submission has been misused and grossly abused, you will see that Scripture sets a very clear horizon – we submit to Christ and in that place, where Jesus is Lord our command is to honor and serve not dominate and never, ever abuse.  Any submission to Christ MUST be saturated in actions and attitudes that are demonstrated in serving, honoring, preferring, self-giving love to the other.  If those aren’t prominent characteristics in our relationship with our spouse, we’ve NOT met first priority which is to be submitted to Jesus.  Dominance and demand is never to be seen in followers of Christ.  

2nd  - submission does NOT mean inequality or subservience   We have this in the relationship of Jesus to His Father where we are told in Phil 2:6-8 that Jesus is equal with God but He submits Himself to Him, “He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself.”  So, we understand that submission does not mean, “less than” or “weaker than”.

So with that said, let’s come back to what is biblical submission.

Submitting is an act of humble obedience.  It is setting aside our will, our control.  It’s being willing to stand back rather than stand out.  It means serving Christ rather than ourselves.

How?  By keeping our eyes on our horizon, remembering that in the places God has put us, we ride shotgun, His ‘away from home’, eyes on Who we serve representatives, His aliens, called to make His home so attractive, others will want to comb into the front seat with us. 

But Rob, have you read the latest tweet, heard the latest insult, seen the latest attack? 

And in my world? - in the mill, on the team, in the class?  Sounds so good in your picture perfect ‘God’ world.  But get real.  Submitting there?  The leaders we look to, the bosses for whom we work, the teachers to whom we listen?  Submit to them?  Do you know who they are, how they act, the things they stand for?   Submit to them?  Really?

And Peter would say, yep because by submitting to them, we are submitting to Christ.  Submitting to His will for our lives.  Let’s be clear.  Our horizon is having Christ clearly in view and bowing in obedience to Him.  Beginning and end.

Let’s not forget, Peter isn’t writing from a removed from the world, monastery.  This was emperor Nero time – cruel, barbaric, savage.  One who set Christians aflame as human torches for his entertainment or who set wild animals upon Christians after covering them in animal skins.  So don’t tell me Peter is writing with no understanding of what it means to live in our time under a leader who seems to give in to social agendas that stand opposed to God, or a polarizing, inflammatory candidate or in a school system that promotes disturbing values and views.  And still he says, 

Martyrs in the times of Emperor Nero

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves."  Rom 13:1-2


In other words, the governing authority over us – politically; in the laws we are called to obey; in the places in which we work; in the places we go to school, are, what Scripture makes clear, God established and God appointed.  Authority to which we are to submit when that authority is kind AND submit when that authority is anything but. 

Feeling a little queasy – some motion sickness beginning to take hold?  

Before nausea wins the battle, let’s consider, once again, what submission is NOT.  It is not remaining quiet in situations of abuse whether that is physical, verbal or emotional.  It does not mean silently enduring what should not be endured.  When actions are abusive, we need to do what’s necessary to remove ourselves from situations of risk and wrong uses of power.  There are times when the law needs to intervene in order to bring justice so we and others are no longer harmed.  When individuals use and abuse under the guise of submission that is anything but biblical. Abusive behaviour is never to be rationalized, minimized, even justified. Actions cannot be dismissed with excuses like, If you knew the stuff I was raised with’.  Even if true, completely irrelevant.  Your actions aren’t about what happened to you then, they are about your actions now - who you are to your spouse and how you stand before God.  So if this is you - deal with it!  Now!  Before it’s too late.  Quit the excuses and justifications and repent. Get help.  And to repeat, if you’re on the receiving end, submission is not silent passivity.  This is not something you are to endure, instead, take action for yourself and those in your care.

But what do we do with situations that may not reach the severity of abusive authority but it’s an authority that we find troubling and not worthy of anything we might admire, anything we respect?  What then?  

Well, we need to come back to the context in which Peter writes and with that it becomes clear, much about what Peter experienced under the authority he lived would NOT have earned his respect.  But to Peter, earned respect was not the issue. The respect he was speaking of was given respect. He expands on that elsewhere in the verses we are looking at this morning. In short, submission is not a blanket call to respect everything our leaders do.  It does not mean ‘closed eyes, closed mouths’ to some things our leaders say. 

Sure, like you, I find some behaviors of those in leadership to be reprehensible.  Their tweets inappropriate, sometimes degrading and often mean spirited.  Their actions - often despicable, inflammatory, and sometime frightening.  BUT God calls us to not respond in kind.    

We are not to be shaped by the attitudes around us– grumbling, complaining, critiquing, attacking, tearing down, – because when we do, our actions are contrary to the will of God.  God is quite clear on this.  I could cite several Scriptures that speak to this but for the sake of time, God told Moses to proclaim before the children of Israel that they, Were not to curse the ruler of your people  Ex 22:28.  Solomon notes, Curse not the king, no not in your thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”  Ecc. 10:20.

Titus writes, Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.  Titus 3:1,2

Our attitude submitted to the Lord in everything.  I am not a pilot but I understand that the successful flight and landing of an aircraft is determined by its alignment with the horizon.  The aeronautical term for this alignment is called the plane’s ‘attitude’.  So too, our capacity to live a life that pleases God is determined by our attitude that is submitted to Him and lived out in our relationship with others – when those places are calm and when they are stormy. 

Some of you are dealing with your queasiness by pulling out your exclusion card – that there are times when, as Christians, we are not to submit to human authority and in that you are right. BUT! those exceptions are limited to one criteria – when that authority calls us to do something that is opposed to what God commands or to act in a way that is contrary to what pleases God.

We have an example in Peter’s life as well as Paul and others.  When ordered to remain silent  about Jesus, their response, even after being imprisoned was, We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard" Acts 4:20.   Later that accusation was repeated in Acts 5, Did not we command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. :29 .

When Hebrew midwives were told, under the order of the king to kill babies, “they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live”.  The 3 young men refused to bow to the image of King Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledging him as god. So there are occasions when the Christian must obey God rather than the government, but the Christian ought to have extremely good reasons for disobeying the chosen authority.  

That exclusion may determine and justify our actions but there is nothing in this exclusion clause that gives me freedom to choose attitudes and responses that are contrary to God’s will.  And on this I am guilty and I suspect many of you are as well.

You see Peter says we are to honor everyone.  I’m not sure about you but I’m quite certain everyone means everyone.  I don’t need to do a deep search of the Greek to know that.  So here’s the thing – that means we are not to disparage.  Not to speak with vitriol.  Not to condemn and speak evil.  

And when we live like this – we will close the mouths of our accusers.  But more that, we live as people who are free.  Not people bound by attitudes that corrode.  Not people that get sucked into a way of living and speaking that destroys.  

Instead, people who, in God’s strength, determine the course their lives will take. Who: respect, honour and love EVERYONE.  This is biblical submission.  A submission that gives out.  Gifting the presence of God 

If you want a summary of Christian citizenship, this is it, as well as what follows. 1st, Honor all people.  Honour is a mark of an authentic Christian life that we never violate others nor use them as objects. Instead, we treat those we meet with great value.  Not valued because of how they may benefit us.  Not valued because of something they’ve done or achieved.  But to treat everyone God puts in our path with honour.  The clerk at the store, the driver in the other lane, the waitress who serves.  Value given not earned. 

2nd, Christians are to "love the brotherhood".  That is, we are to honor ALL but we are also given a special command to love some.  Love those who wear the name of Jesus – the brotherhood - brothers and sisters in Christ.  That means seeing the best, speaking the best, and treating the best.  Not promoting suspicion or distrust.  Not speaking ill.  Not castigating others because they hold a different view of Scripture than do we. An open, embracing, loving and forgiving heart to those with whom we share saving faith in Christ.  As Jesus said, By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another Jn 13:35.

How?  By riding shotgun with a clear view of the horizon, fixing our eyes and our hearts on Jesus.

Doing what Paul  in Hebrews 12:2 says,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,

the author and perfecter of our faith…”  

This day was a special day that is why we wish to all mothers around the world to the ones who are still here with us, and to the ones they gone waiting for us to be together again in the glory of our Lord of Lords and King of Kings JESUS CHRIST.


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