When Government is Chaotic
Does the Bible have anything to say to God’s people when they disagree with their government or when the values of the government leaders are opposed to the values of Christian people? The answer is yes.
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 and  they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” and they brought him a denarius. 20 and  Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. and they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22 ESV)
After sharing the parable of the wedding feast and stating, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” the religious leadership understood that Jesus directed both towards them. They devised a plan to challenge Jesus, and if possible, they would trap him with his own words and turn the world against him.
Some background information:
Like today, religion and politics were hot topics in the day of Jesus. To entrap Jesus, he was asked a political & religious question, “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
The Roman poll tax was hated. It funded the Roman occupation of the land, which God had given to the Jewish people, and the tax suggested that even the Jewish people were owned by Rome, though God said the Jews belonged to him. The question was meant to polarize Jesus, believing that his response would offend the Jews or cause Rome to arrest him.
His response was profound: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Caesar’s image may be stamped on the coin, and thereby belong to him, but God has stamped his image on each of us, and we belong to him.
Jesus’ words put a spotlight on two kingdoms: a worldly kingdom and a heavenly kingdom, two realities, one of which is temporary and the other eternal, and both of which are tied to him. Every person must consider what is owed God in both the temporary and eternal kingdoms. We must ask, “How can we obey and honor God as temporary citizens of this world and as eternal citizens of the kingdom of God?” There is no secular and sacred divide (Romans 11:36).
Truths that ground us as US citizens
· Christians are eternal citizens residing in a temporary world.
· Every authority is sovereignly chosen and placed in power by God.
· We are instructed to pray for government leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
· In a republic, elected leaders represent and reflect the people.
· No matter how shifty and chaotic the world and government is, King Jesus remains the same.
“Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” (Matthew 22:16 ESV)
- Jesus is true and honest
- Jesus teaches truthfully
- Jesus defers to no one
- Jesus is unbiased
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), rendering to the United States what is owed them—obedience to the laws, payment of the taxes and reverence and honor—and rendering to God what is owed him—faithfulness, love, honor and worship.