Today (29 Jan 2017) I preached a sermon titled “Politics in Exile,” from 1 Peter 2:13-17. Below are quotes and links to the sources I used in this sermon.
Quote from Tacitus, Roman Historian, 55-117 AD
Yet no human effort, no princely largesse nor offerings to the gods could make that infamous rumor disappear that Nero had somehow ordered the fire. Therefore, in order to abolish that rumor, Nero falsely accused and executed with the most exquisite punishments those people called Christians, who were infamous for their abominations. The originator of the name, Christ, was executed as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius; and though repressed, this destructive superstition erupted again, not only through Judea, which was the origin of this evil, but also through the city of Rome, to which all that is horrible and shameful floods together and is celebrated.
Therefore, first those were seized who admitted their faith, and then, using the information they provided, a vast multitude were convicted… they were killed by dogs by having the hides of beasts attached to them, or they were nailed to crosses or set aflame, and, when the daylight passed away, they were used as nighttime lamps. Nero gave his own gardens for this spectacle… people began to pity these sufferers, because they were consumed not for the public good but on account of the fierceness of one man.
Source: World Civilization reader at Washington State University, accessed here
Quote from Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law… That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.
Source: University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center, accessed here
Sermon Recap: Because of the gospel, we are…
- Free to Submit (v. 13-14)
- Free to Subvert (v. 15)
- Free to Serve (v. 16)
- Free to Honor (v. 17)
Listen to the entire sermon here