unto caeser?

the people who know me know i am not political. i could care less about politics, the parties do not move me or interest me. none do, not even the "third parties" out and about trying to fill some political nitch. i could care less who wins, because in reality they are not interested in me and my life - they are only interested in their own and how they can "get ahead" and have more power. i remember when i was a kid my dad said, "i will never undersand why some one would spend 1 million dollars to have a job that pays less then $50,000; i just do not get it."

i was watching tv last night, and as i was flipping through the challens i rested on a "talk show" thing were some people were talking about the war, and i was just about to change it when one of the people said that he did not support the war because he felt it was agaisnt his christian faith and vlaues [i agree with that by the way], so i wanted to hear what he said. other guys said, "render to caeser what is caeser's, and to God what is God's" - then he went on to explain that as christians we have a moral duty to fight this war becuase the state has asked us, and that we must render unto caeser. his "logic" was that as 'americans' we owe the state our lives - with that, the conversation ended. the one who stood the ground on the fact that, "according to my faith war is wrong" was shut-out by people clapping for the man who told him his faith was wrong and that we needed to "render to caeser." now, that bugged me because it was not very relational, and it was not a reality of scripture - let me explain what i mean.

render unto caeser:
in his recording of the events surrounding the life of jesus, matthew records jesus speaking with some jewish leaders, and jesus says, "give to caeser what is caeser's and to God what is God's" [matthew 22:21]. this line has been used to bring christians into the political debate for almost 1,700 years. everytime i mention that i am a pacifist, i am hit with that line as if it will magicaly change my point of view and make me pick-up a gun and kill people; or declare some kind of loyality to the "state." but that will not happen, because my christian walk does not allow me to think in terms of violence, or anger, or revenge. but more then that, the people who quote this line often concentrate on the "give to caeser" part, and they do a quick walk over the "give to God" part - i want to look at the "give to God" part.

render unto God:
i am willing to give caeser [the state] everything that belongs to it, which according to scripture is nothing. you see, according to scripture everything belongs to God, everything [job 41:11] so, since everything belongs to God, God gets everything - caeser gets nothing. let's look at it one thing at a time:

kings [the state] belongs to God:
in the psalms, the psalmist shares with us that even kings belong to God [psalm 47:9]

we [everyone] belongs to God:
in his first recorded letter to the church peter shares that "we all belong to God" [1 peter 2:9]

we [as followers] belong to christ:
in his recording of the events surrounding the live of jesus,mark shares that as followers we all belong to christ [mark 9:41]

so, i wonder - because everything belongs to God, and everyone belongs to God - what is left to render to caeser? my life? that belongs to God. my loyality? that is also God's. my walk? that is God's as well. there is nothing i have that belongs to caeser. and no place in scripture will you find that we belong to the state - we all belong to God.

so, it is in that where i rest and say i am not politic. as a follower of christ, i seek to walk in the light of the teachings, and not in the darkness of men. now, before i go on let me address those who will read this and comment, or say to themselves, "saying you are not political is 'being political' because everything we do is political' we are a political society." i disagree. i am not a political person, i am a relationship person. it is not a "play on words," there is huge differences. when you are into politics you desire to "get the best deal for you." when you are into relationships you desire to "help others get the best." in politics, people look out for "number one" [you]; in relationship people desire to follow "number one" [God]. to me, the difference is pretty clear, and i am good with that.


Makeesha said...

As Derek Webb puts it so well, I serve a King and a Kingdom

Jeffrey said...

ha ha, can't say i've ever really thought about it like that.

Dang, i wish this meant i didn't have to pay taxes...

Ben Walling said...

The 'render unto Caesar' argument is remarkably weak. We are also told that is equivalent to evil to know what is good and not do it. It's become cliche to use Nazi Germany as an exaggerative example, but it applies here as well. Should Christians in the German army have gone along with Hitler? Should they have tortured and murdered the Jews because they were rendering unto Caesar?

Nationalism is a form of idolatry. You are placing "love of country" before God.

ScottB said...

"Nationalism is a form of idolatry."

This is true. The interesting thing about the "render to Caesar" line is that the coin would have had an image of Caesar imprinted on it. Caesar, of course, was worshipped as a god - for the Jewish leaders to be carrying around a coin with the image of the emperor was tanamount to idolatry in a very literal sense.

NT Wright has, of course, a fantastic article on the topic here:

Great post.