Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Render unto Caesar

The Bible teaches us that Christians have an obligation to be good citizens. We are to render unto Caesar what is his and to God what is His. The past few days I've been rendering unto Caesar. Yesterday I voted in the Indiana primary, and the day before I paid my property taxes. On April 15 I mailed in my income tax payment. Last week I paid the sales taxes from the preceding month's auction's sales.

In addition we are taught in Scripture to pray for those in authority over us. I admit that following this one can be difficult at times, but I remind myself that I am to pray for the office and the person who occupies that office. I may not personally like or admire the person, but I am to respect the office he or she holds, and it is out of that respect that we are to pray.

When I turned 18 this nation still had a draft system in place due to the war in Vietnam. Knowing that I was getting close to being drafted I decided to enroll in the Navy instead. This nation enjoys the freedoms it enjoys today because brave men and women have been willing to serve in the military to protect those rights. I was not going to burn my draft card or run away to Canada to avoid serving my nation as some did, and I look on those four years in the Navy with a great deal of pride. I appreciate the opportunity to have served our nation in that way.

However, we must never forget that as Christians we hold a dual citizenship. We are both citizens here, and we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We are called upon to also render unto God what belongs to Him. That includes our ultimate loyalty and faithfulness. Any time the state asks us to do something or accept something that is contrary to the clear Word of God we must obey God.

Sometimes people will say they would suffer the consequences if needed to obey God rather than the state. I have to admit that I wonder about that because there are many things in the Bible that we are commanded to do as citizens of God's Kingdom that most Christians do not do.

  • We are commanded to share our faith, but few Christians have ever led anyone to faith in Christ.
  • We are taught to tithe, but the average Christian gives less than 2.5% of their income to the church.
  • We are commanded to gather together for corporate worship, but for many Christians today attending church on Sunday is something they do if there's nothing else going on.
  • We are told that we are to grow in our faith, but many Christians have never grown beyond their initial salvation experience.
  • We have been given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of ministry, but few Christians can tell you what their gifts are or how they are using them for ministry.
  • We are told to pray without ceasing, but many Christians admit to seldom praying unless they are facing a crisis.
  • We are taught to honor and care for our spiritual leaders, but many pastors and other ministry leaders often struggle financially. Clergy abuse accounts for a large number of clergy persons leaving the ministry every year.
  • We are commanded to work for justice for those who are oppressed, but how many Christians or churches can you name who are doing that?
The list could go on and on, but I think this is sufficient. Most of us are faithful in rendering unto Caesar what is his, but that is often due to the fact that if we don't we break the law and face penalties. We are often less likely to render unto God what belongs to Him because we don't see an immediate penalty if we don't. We forget that there is a day of judgment coming for each of us.

But, we should not be motivated by the fear of God's judgment to do the things He has directed. Our motivation should come because of our love for Him and our appreciation for all that He has done for us. We should seek to be good citizens of the Kingdom of God because we are the recipients of Gods grace, not because we fear His judgment. We should desire to obey Him because blessings come through obedience, and those blessings are not only ours to receive but will also be experienced by those whose lives we touch on His behalf.

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