Give to God what is God's
2021 has arrived and our problems have followed us. It looks like we have no choice but to get better at dealing with our problems. We are not the first to face this challenge. The Israel of Jesus’ day was struggling to deal with the problems of the Roman occupation; economic hardships; and religious strife. One encounter between Jesus and the religious leaders is highly instructive for us and the way we approach problem-solving. The story is told in Mark 12. Verse 13 tells us the religious leaders approach Jesus trying to trick or trap Him. Perhaps that is the first lesson. Be honest about who you are and what you are up to ... stop with the tricks and traps. These folks ask Jesus a question which they hope will put Him in an impossible situation. “Teacher we know that you are a man of integrity … Is it right to pay the imperial tax or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we? But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me?’ He asked. ‘Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.’ They brought the coin, and He asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ And they were amazed at Him.” (Mark 12:14-17) A lot can be said about this passage but what is often missed are the last words – “give to God what is God’s.” I think Jesus was trying to break His hearers free from the either/or approach. Such an approach can leave people stuck in bitter division and painful adversity. Perhaps Jesus was pointing to a deeper reality. What is that deeper reality, you ask? Perhaps it is time for God - the One whose image we all bear, the One whose inscription can be seen all over creation – to receive His due. What do we owe to God? How would it change our approach to problem-solving, if we all took seriously, first and foremost, that God is in charge? He is Lord and King and that means He has a plan and purpose. Then we set out to understand and be part of what God is up to. Maybe this would change how we operate … maybe this is how we raise the bar on our discipleship.