As I drove to work last Wednesday, I was following a car for several blocks that was sporting a bumper sticker advertising a website that promised me access to “Forbidden Information” if I visited the dotcom being offered.
I wasn’t interested.
Me…who googles EVERYTHING…had not even one single urge to jot down the address so I could check it out.
After a while, another car pulled out of a side street.
On this bumper was a bright and cheery “I love Jesus” sign.
The word “love” was represented by a red heart.
So there I was …. following these two messages until they reached an intersection with a left turn lane.
Forbidden merged left….Jesus fan merged right…and I went right up the middle between them.
My heart was racing as all three cars idled side by side.
Adrenaline pumped as I sat between these two vehicles that I am kind of thinking may have opposing world views.
And for all I know, I could be at complete polar opposites in doctrine, beliefs, theology…etc…etc…with either or both of these drivers if we got to talking.
I have lived long enough to know that a bumper sticker does not a brother, sister or enemy make.
It seems we are more and more wearing and looking for labels and wondering where people stand on issues as we seek some level of camaraderie in the chaos of our world.
The atmosphere rapidly escalates into shouting matches between “sides” and even our governing authorities seem more interested in agendas and media coverage and leveraging for their parties than in doing what is fair and just and right…
let alone righteous.
We try desperately to align our politics and civic duties up with our faith and it gets oh-so-messy.
So as I read through the passages recounting Jesus’ last days on earth, I was fascinated that in the midst of HIs walk to Calvary to deliver humanity from the death sentence which we deserved…
He took time to answer a question about paying taxes.
The Pharisees were attempting numerous times to trip Him up during the week and so they come to Him with a question about the legality of paying taxes to Caesar.
I think of how relevant such a question might be to us, as Christians, today.
Do we continue to pay taxes and do other things that support a government even when it seems to be working against or outside of or ignorant of God’s laws?
Do we still try to honor a country that dishonors us and all we hold to be true?
So I lean forward to hear what Jesus has to say and I find His response is to be somewhat irritated with the question.
From the description in my Bible, I can almost see Him roll His Holy eyes and then say,
with a bit of impatience….
“Hand me that gold coin in your hand, sir.”
I picture Him glancing at it, almost with disdain, and then flipping it back to the person and saying…
“Well…it has Caesar’s pic on it so it must belong to him”.
Makes me think of how my dad was fond of saying when he wanted you to know how little he had emotionally invested in something….“Whom cares?”
Or as Jesus put it….
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.
That He took the time to answer the question is as interesting as the answer itself.
It seems to me that what He said and the way He said it was to be significant a teaching for those left behind to carry on His work.
Then and now.
As I have set aside this season of Lent by adding some things and removing some other things, I have begun to see that I spend far too much time focusing on how my faith plays out in the world I have to walk in….rather than on the One for whom I walk.
Much of what grabs my attention has the face of the Caesars of this world stamped on it.
And Caesars come and go.
I have to live peaceably within the laws of a government that leads a diverse population.
Unless I am forced to compromise my faith, I follow the rules and render unto “Caesar” that which belongs to him.
But God has set my heart on eternity and that is where my rendering needs some work.
Christ purchased me back from death and it is now He who lives within me and so I render unto Him all that I am.
For the choices I can make about where I spend the resources of time, money, energy and talents that He has given me…I sur-render all.
It would seem that God is far more interested in how I am doing in that area than how I am holding turf for Him out there in Caesar’s playground.
I pray God blesses us with wisdom and discernment as we ponder how to work out our salvation in the time and culture and government authority under which God has placed each one of us with our focus on Him and Him alone <3