Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
What’s the right role of government? That’s one of those debates we will always have. Any time there are alliances of people, some sort of organization is necessary. This is shown clearly by the fact that there are anarchist organizations. Even those who wish to shun governmental authority make some sort of government of their own.
In Matthew 22:15-22 the Pharisees wish to trap Jesus with a question about the role of government. The question at hand is whether people should pay taxes. If Jesus says taxes are appropriate, he can be portrayed as a Roman sympathizer who must not be the Messiah. After all the Messiah is going to set up his own kingdom and would have nothing to do with submission to the rulers of this world. If Jesus says it isn’t appropriate to pay taxes, he commits rebellion against Roman rule and is subject to arrest and execution. The fact is, Jesus cannot answer the question they pose without a dire and unwanted consequence.
Jesus’ answer goes farther than the question. He affirms that we give God what belongs to Him. We give our government what belongs to it. The logical outcome of this statement, though, considering that God is the creator and sustainer of all, is that God receives all the glory, honor, praise, and whatever material possessions there are. Throughout the history of Israel, some of our material goods were brought to God’s priests, who were supported by them and who also used them to care for the poor, as well as any other civic projects which were needed. Giving to God includes some material possessions and all our allegiance. However, Jesus says there is nothing wrong with giving to a government. The civil authorities do need resources to accomplish peace and safety for their subjects. We read about this a good deal in Romans chapter 13. Does the state receive all our allegiance? Not really. It isn’t like God. But it does have a claim on its subjects and there is an appropriate respect to be given to the state as well.
Learning to walk appropriately on the line - allegiance to God and submission to the state - is not easy. It takes, perhaps, more lifetime than we have on this earth. But it is perfectly honorable before God.
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