The life of a Christian is the most free of any other person. Luther wrote :
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all*
Our Lord delivers us from bondage to sin as it enslaves others around us. Thus we are free from being slaves. Yet Our Lord sees fit to place sinful men in leadership positions over us. This is one of the many quandaries in which the Christian finds in life.
St Peter wrote the following;
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, 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.
(1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV)
In this we see great freedom but it is also a great challenge. When Our Lord puts into office those who only seek to do good by doing evil it is hard to remain respectful of this leader while beholding his or her wicked deeds. Peter understood this. Our Lord foretold of how he was to die which was similar to how Our Lord died.
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
(John 21:17-19 ESV)
After this prophecy by Jesus Peter still had the faith to write such a thing to those who would be persecuted by the same emperor's subjects. Yet we are the most free. How is this to be understood? Unlike our neighbor who does not believe in Jesus he has enslaved himself to thinking this life is all he has. We who believe in Christ are not under that horrible thought.
We know that Our Lord has purchased us for himself and is our True and Holy Emperor. We also know that the wicked leaders we have are subject to him and will either be granted repentance and forgiveness or face the Righteous Judge in condemnation. With this knowledge we can actually pray in honest concern for our leader's salvation rather than to cruelly speak of this leader which so many in the world do. It is tempting to join in but it is not pleasing to Our Father in heaven and we must always seek his pleasure.
If we are honest with ourselves we must admit we fail miserably with this directive. But we have good news. Christ came to live in perfect obedience to the law and has fulfilled it and it is ended because we are justified by faith due to his death and resurrection.
Let us trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †
*THE FREEDOM OF A CHRISTIAN
1520 by Martin Luther written to Pope Leo X