What Is Caesar’s
We find ourselves amidst the heat of the political races, debates, and ensuing elections with the lines blurred more than ever before. Every politician, no matter how loose their “translation,” has something to say about the Scriptures and it seems that every Christian, no matter how conservative or liberal, has something to say about every politician. As Christians, we do not want to be a passive people. Avarice, or apathy, is a deadly sin, after all. We are to be stewards of our opportunities and influence in the world. So with politics being the most pervasive headline in our world as of right now, where are Christ-followers supposed to fall?
This is not where I lobby for one party over another. This is not where to make a statement about pro-life or pro-choice, legalization, or immigration policy. Don’t get me wrong, our beliefs about these topics are certainly of value and importance, and following Jesus shapes our stance on each and every one of those issues. However, the most important question to ask about politics for Christians is not what we feel, but what we trust.
We find an intriguing scriptural episode on government in Matthew 22:15-22. In an attempt to trap Jesus, Pharisees and Herodians teamed up to ask him about whether Jesus believed taxes should be paid. Essentially – will Jesus say something against the government, so that we can hand him over to them for revolution? Or will he favor the government too much, that we might discredit him in front of his followers? And Jesus very simply responds by asking for a coin used for the tax, having them name that it bears Caesar’s portrait and inscription, then saying “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” His response left the conspirators in awe. Note here that Jesus doesn’t speak of anyone’s position on taxation. This doesn’t mean that Jesus doesn’t care about politics, but His answer does circumnavigate posing any verbal threat to the Empire. At the same time, to the religious leaders, and to us, a gut-wrenching question is asked between the lines. What is God’s? Everything. Who really rules the world? Who’s really the foundation of what you trust in?
Never before have political structures ever challenged our population so directly as the MAP Grant unrest as of late for any Illinois residents here on our campus. With Senator Kyle visiting recently and students called to action to save the MAP Grant and urge the Illinois government to act, we absolutely cannot stipulate that we as Christians are not supposed to care about politics, as some might suggest. Ignorance, no, apathy — is not the route for us to take, but passionate action with Godly perspective is a necessity.
Jesus was keenly aware of the political implications of His ministry. It cannot be pretended that the birth and movement of the Church and contemporary political systems were separate from each others influence. But Jesus modeled for us that while maintaining an awareness of our world, praying for it and stewarding our influence, our hope and trust is to remain in God, not your favorite presidential candidate.