I was driving down the freeway last year going along with the speed of traffic when a highway patrol officer came up behind me and put on his lights. You know the feeling: instant panic with ensuing heart palpitations. I looked at the odometer, 79, then quickly took my foot of the accelerator. Surely he’s not pulling me over for 79? I’ve been told that anything under 80 they don’t bother with and besides my cousin is a CHP and I have one of those nifty star stickers on my license to show them I am “one of them”, “part of the family” so to speak and my insurance is military insurance. That will be the clincher. They don’t ticket their own.
The officer came up to my window, asked plainly for my license, registration, and proof of insurance. He walked back to his car, came back, and handed me my speeding ticket. No small talk, all business. I was busted. My “get out of jail free cards” did not work. I broke the law, the officer was just. It did not matter that everyone else on the freeway was going 79. It did not matter that normally they don’t pull you over at that speed. It did not matter that I have a sticker or insurance to prove I am one of them. The fact of the matter is I was speeding. The speed limit is 65. I was going 79… Judged and Convicted.
How often do you justify your actions to a holy impartial Judge. How often do you think “I’m on the good guy’s team, He will let it slide this time.” How often do you think “I’m not as bad as that other guy over there. He must judge based on a curve.” There could be nothing further from the truth. Check out this verse in 1 Peter:
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (1 Peter 1:17, ESV)
Let’s unpack this verse a bit…
The word epikaleō means to “call on” or to “appeal to” or to “call for help”. It is meant here to suggest that this is a regular occurrence, that we are to habitually call on the Father for help. Peter is assuming his readers are Christians and that they pray regularly. The idea that God is someone we have an intimate relationship with as well as the fact that he is the ultimate judge who always judges fairly and without partiality are all within the same sentence, the readers understand that just because they are part of God’s family does not mean they will get special treatment. This is the true fear of God when one understands this concept to its fullest.
The term “judges” is used in the Greek “ton krinonta” which is a present participle. This means the judgement Peter is talking about is active and current for their lifetime. He is not talking about final judgement. The Father is actively and presently disciplining his children. That is what this type of fear means.
The Greek word for fear is “phobos” and is where we get the word phobia from. However the phobos of God and his discipline is actually a good thing because its outcome should be a right response to God’s law that will result in growth, sanctification, and blessings.
Peter also reminds his readers that they are exiles, sojourners hear on earth. That means they must continually remember to show foreigners (those of this world) what it means to be a child of God.
Therefor, we are to have an active and intimate relationship with the Father while maintaining a high view of him knowing he is the perfect impartial judge even to us. Because of this we must live our lives in light of fear of his judgement as well as the fact that this world is not our true home and we must be examples to others by bringing honor to our true family name.