Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Even Jesus had to deal with taxes. Of course, this is not the crux of the Gospel’s meaning this weekend. Rather, we read these important words: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
We do well to bear in mind that repaying Caesar does not mean blind acceptance or obeisance to the state. Rather, with these words, Jesus acknowledges that the state (or government, or civil structures) has a genuine role to play in our lives, though it is a role than can never be held equal to the place of God. Keeping the state in its proper place in our lives can help us to recognize and carry out our civil duties and responsibilities. In this way, we can be good citizens, paying our taxes, voting, and generally being good neighbors to our fellow-citizens.
Often, we stop at our duty to the state. It is not uncommon to measure our life or worth by our obedience to the civil law or adherence to a political party’s agenda. Caesar can claim taxes, but cannot claim our soul. Our true worth, the real measure of our lives, belongs only to God. The God who made us in His image and likeness has an exclusive claim on our hearts and souls. While death and taxes are sure things in this life, our very lives belong entirely to God.
We live in interesting times. Why are so many of us stressed, discouraged, unhappy, or fearful about our current state of affairs? In part, it is because we have overpaid Caesar – we have put too much hope, confidence, and energy into our action in and with the state, and too little energy, hope, and confidence in the merciful God who created us and holds us in His loving hands. So let us take back a little from Caesar, and turn our attention, our prayer, our hope, to God, the one who loves us and desires that we would be with him for all eternity.