“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Historians universally claim that these words from Jesus have been “the single most influential political statement ever made.” They have shaped western civilization. Both Peter (1 Peter 2.13-17) and Paul (Romans 13.1-7) expand on what Jesus said, giving “shape to the political world as we know it today.” Our responsibilities to God do not negate our civic duties, neither should our civic duties negate our responsibilities to God.
Jesus avoided the trap set by the pretenders by saying that we have a duty to both the state and to God. What Caesar claims is irrelevant unless it interferes with our duty to God. Jesus doesn’t tell us what to do when the two are in direct moral conflict. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s handling of Nebuchadnezzar’s injunction against prayer (Dan. 3) and Daniel’s handling of a similar edict by Darius (Dan. 6) are great examples of what to do when the two spheres collide. When the choice is between obeying God or obeying man, we have to choose to obey God (Acts 5.28-29). If you, as a Christian, are asked to do something immoral or something that violates the Word of God, you should say “no”, but then be prepared to face the consequences. Just like Daniel and his buddies. And just like Christian martyrs have done throughout the centuries. Don’t give up, don’t give in, Jesus wins.
Fundamentally the question is: where is our hope? Is our hope in this broken, fallen world, or in the kingdom that Jesus brings? Are we looking for a king to save us in this political circus, or are we looking for the King who has already saved us?
And as those who follow Jesus, how do we engage the culture? What does it mean to live and love like Jesus? What’s our responsibility? First and foremost we have to remember that Jesus is our only Hope and our King. So we don’t give up, we don’t give in because we know that Jesus wins. And knowing that…We as followers of Jesus are called to submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). We are to be markedly law-abiding, even down to the traffic laws and paying taxes. Our obedience should be careful and prayerful…As Paul said to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, for prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1, 2). In this country we have been given the right to vote…to let our voice be heard. We should exercise that right…prayerfully and intelligently. God is sovereign…but He chooses to use us in the process of accomplishing His purposes.
But we also need to confess our pride and our sinful attitudes…conversations, statements and responses that have reflected more fear than faith, more of my kingdom than God’s kingdom.
In a few weeks, we will have a new president…whoever that is we are called to pray for them and submit to their authority. May not be easy to do, especially if your candidate is not elected. But we have to trust God’s sovereignty. He’s still in control. Just as He was when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went into the fiery furnace. Just as He was when Daniel went into the lions’ den. Just as He was when Jesus hung on a cross.
Jesus says we are to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Are we doing so? Even more importantly, are we giving to God the things that are God’s?
Until next time…stay salty.
This post is based on a sermon from our Luke series, Live & Love Like Jesus. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster