Lord, by Your Spirit address my will, challenge my attitudes, and enlighten my mind. You call my name and I seek Your face.
Consider: Jesus was challenging his accusers in their response to God: "Give...to God what is God's" (22). That is a challenge we need to constantly keep before us.
Common hostility can produce strange alliances. Herodians were supporters of the Roman-approved puppet king of the Jews, Herod Antipas. Pharisees were passionate for the keeping of the Law. Jesus recognizes that their question is not a real enquiry, but a trap. It appeared that he was in a no-win situation. It wasn't part of his mission to side with either party. Rather, he went behind the question to the underlying issue of the relationship that all ought to have with God. Too often we think that we must choose between competing contemporary parties, and we confuse immediate issues with ultimate ones. This can lead to conflict and divisions among Christian believers, destroying our witness to the Lord Jesus.
Jesus accepts the civil obligations to the colonial power that went with the use of Roman coinage. His attitude to the paying of taxes flows through into Paul's teaching in Romans 13 and into Peter's teaching in 1 Peter 2. It also provided the basis for the later conflict with the Roman state that is depicted in Revelation. When Caesar tried to claim what is God's by asserting his own divinity and demanding the worship that belongs to God alone, Christians were ready to suffer the consequences of disobedience. Witness and suffering become the weapons with which the aggrandizement of the state is opposed.
As citizens of modern states, many Christians will become involved in political action. That is our civic response to Caesar, but we forget Jesus' example if we think that political solutions will deal with the basic issue at the heart of mankind's problems--our rebellion against God and his rule. Even good laws do not produce righteousness, but we recognize that in sinful society right governance is important "to restrain ... the stubborn and evil-doers" (Thirty-Nine Articles, Episcopal Church) and that Christians have a part in helping to establish it.
Apply: In your life, what belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God? How well are you giving to each?
Lord, help me to be a good citizen. But, above all else, enable me to put You first in all things.
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