"What Belongs to God?"
What Belongs to God...
Caesar the things that are Caesar's" - right off the bat, we think about what? Money! It's a natural assumption...
I mean, the Pharisees did ask Jesus a question about paying taxes to Rome, right?
Of course, it was a trick question! They were hoping Jesus would say something along the lines of not paying taxes to Rome, because then, they could turn him over to the Romans for treason!
And, of course, they’re ultimate goal was to get rid of Jesus... they knew he was teaching his followers that keeping the "Letter of the Law" wasn't the Way to please God, and to honor God.
In fact, Jesus warned his followers to "beware the leaven of the Pharisees." They had made an idol of ritual and commandment keeping... and in the process... they'd made the Law - an obstacle to keep people separated from God, instead of an avenue of access to God’s mercy and grace.
So, rightly, Jesus turned the question of paying taxes back on the Pharisees. He asked, "who's image is on the coin used to pay the tax?" Of course, it was Caesar! It was a earthly king.
Have you ever thought about that? Whose image is on our money? (Presidents)
So Jesus said, "give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar" - and "give to God, the things that belong to God."
And that's the point Jesus was making. Give to God the things that are God's.
It does raise a question: what should you and I actually “render under God?” What is due God?
Again, most of the time when we hear these words from our scripture lesson, we think of money! But let’s think about what’s taking place here. Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, right? He was answering a question posed by the Pharisees.
Well... the Pharisees were notorious for following the Law! They followed the letter of the law to the “t”. They were fanatical about following the law. And so the Pharisees tithed. They gave what was required already! Nobody had to talk a Pharisee into giving what they should be giving, they didn’t have to have 10 stewardship sermons a year on meeting the budget or caring for the poor and needy. Jesus said the Pharisees even tithed of their mint, and dill, and cumin (Matthew 23:23). Have you every tithed of your spice rack? The Pharisees did!
So it turns out the Pharisees were really, really good tithers. And yet Jesus told them, that they still needed to render under God the things that are Gods. So he couldn’t have possibly been talking about money.
Take a deep breath… Breathe in, then, breathe out. God gave you that breath, did he not? When you woke up this morning, it was God who sustained your life through the night. Every cell, every fiber of your being… Your muscles, the tendons, the bones… Your mind, your memories… When was the last time you caused your heart to beat? Every single star in the sky, every planet, every quasar, every galaxy… Everything belongs to God.
So what if Caesar can claim coins with a pretty bad image of himself, stamped upon him! He can’t hold a candle what God owns.
Jesus says we should render under God, the things that are Gods. He’s saying that everything we do, every gifting, every grace, every talent, every ability belongs to God. Our entire lives should be dedicated to God. Every breath, and every waking moment should be rendered unto the Lord. It’s not about money. It’s about giving your entire life truly, wholly, faithfully to God.
You see, that’s why God wants us to know, to experience, and to understand. Jesus is not interested in anything except us. And what would please him most would be for everyone in this church to surrender to God every moment of their life… Every single day… Every single breath given in-service to him. Could you imagine what our community would look like if Christians truly surrender themselves to God. It would have an effect on everything… Including our offerings.
Are you actively, intentionally, striving for ways to live out this imperative of Jesus? Have you given your life to Christ? Have you asked Jesus to truly be your Lord and your Savior? That’s what’s important. Because if you’ve given your life to Christ, And you’re striving to live for him, in everything you say, and do, you will render unto God, the things that are Gods... and you’ll also find the peace and fulfillment that comes along with it...