But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:15-17
Jesus’ command in this passage is to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to give to God what belongs to God. We are being commanded to be good citizens of our country and to give God our full allegiance. Being a good citizen involves paying taxes when they are due, voting our consciences in local and national elections, and obeying the law.
Giving God our full allegiance means that we view local and national issues through the lens of Jesus and the kingdom of God. We may not agree with all the local or national laws concerning various political or social issues, but we need to be involved in the solution of these problems. Some of these issues are too large for one individual or one church to solve in a week or a year. However, we can make an impact for God’s kingdom if we take our cue from Jesus, looking at how he treated the people he encountered daily.
All four gospels are filled with passages where Jesus tells us what the kingdom of God is like. Luke chapter 18 and 19 has several good examples. Jesus talks about how God values the honest, humble tax collector in Luke 18:14. Jesus also welcomes children and encourages all to trust God as completely as little children do. In Luke 18:18-30 Jesus tells the story of the rich young ruler, showing how difficult it is to give God your full allegiance if you are wealthy. In Luke 19:1-9 Jesus spends time with Zacchaeus, a tax collector, who then gives half of his possessions to the poor and returns money to those he had cheated. Most of Jesus’ ministry was healing sick people and teaching sinners and outcasts. Jesus had compassion on all he met and wants all to come to know him as savior.
If we follow Jesus’ example, treating those in need with value, then often those same people are willing listen to us when we share about how Jesus’ love has changed our lives. South Fellowship hosts a food bank weekly and Family Promise quarterly, which provides housing at our church to homeless families. Both ministries provide opportunities for us to share God’s love and his kingdom with people in need. Look for an opportunity to be generous with your time or your money this week.
By Grace Hunter