Politics and the Church

24 01 2007

Image result for church and politics Matthew 22:21 
 Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

The Pharisees were religious conservatives.  They were strict legalists and would rather a Jew, preferably the linage of David, control Israel instead of Rome.  The Herodians were a Jewish political party, who supported Rome, They were proud of the linage of Herods who sat as governors of Palestine.  Normally, these two were bitter enemies.

Both groups had one thing in common: they distrusted Jesus (for different reasons).  Together, they concocted a fool-proof plan that would surely be the downfall of the popular preacher from Galilee.  They set him up with a supposed sincere question.  They asked about the lawful duty of paying taxes to Rome.  If he supported the tax then the Pharisees would say he opposed God, because the tax money supported pagan temples and supported the immoral and decadent lifestyles of the ruling aristocracy.  If he failed to support the tax, then the Herodians would hand Him over to Rome as a rebel.

In His reply, Jesus not only silenced both groups, He gave us one of the best lessons in the Bible on church-state relationship.  “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s”.

Jesus was no stranger to politics, nor was He ignorant of political issues.  One of His apostles was a Zealot, a political party that violently apposed Rome.  Another apostle worked for Rome as a tax collector.  Throughout His earthly life, Jesus did not endorse or condemn either group.  The 12 apostles were actually a small snapshot of what the church would eventually become.

How did we get to the place where Evangelical Christians have become the base of conservative Republicans?  How did we get to the place where some believers only pay taxes if they agree where the funds go?  How did we get to the place where many church members feel like they need to sharpen their political tongue and display an, “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude among the lost at a local coffee shop?  Our mission has never been, “go ye into all the country and make Republicans or Democrats out of the ones we meet”.  Our goal is to present the gospel.  I fear we turn off half of our mission field before the gospel is even presented.  We have become more skilled debating the things of Caesar than we have in spreading the life and hope inherent to the things of God.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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