Matthew 22:21 “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

     While we live in this world, we must follow the laws of the land.  Respect for authority, obeying traffic rules, paying your taxes and keeping the peace are all things that God calls us to do;  “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but from God; the powers that be are ordained by God.Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and those who resist shall receive for themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1,2) The laws of the land vary from place to place and time to time but insofar as such laws promote order, peace and proper governance God calls us to follow them.

     Scripture does give examples of decrees and customs that we cannot take part in.  Daniel’s friends where tossed into a fiery furnace because they refused to worship the golden image of king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3: 16 -20).  Where do we draw the line beyond which we cannot go?  Jesus tells us to love God first and foremost and to love our neighbours as ourselves; “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27)  These two commandments were the foundation for ‘the law and the prophets’ according to Jesus (Matthew 22:40).  They make a good ‘line in the sand’.

     How easy it is for this line to move as it is drawn in the shifting sands of our hearts especially if you are entrenched in the world.  In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees gave Caesar far more than his due.  They sought friendship with Caesar and his world;  “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” (John 19:12) They feared Caesar far more than God;  “Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”  (John 19)  They loved Caesar’s world far more than the kingdom of Heaven.

       We in the church struggle with this line due to fear of man; “God has called His people to set the world on fire; unfortunately, too many church leaders today waste their time trying to put fires out and make people happy!”  (Christian Post)  The world is increasingly hostile to God’s Word.  Secularization has proceeded to the point that any religious point of view is all but inadmissible in a public forum especially if it is Christian.  Ravi Zacharias documents the evolution of secularism in American Society;  “Religion has been systematically eliminated from public policy debates by an entrenched, highly secularized information elite.” (Deliver us from Evil p. 24)  Jesus calls us to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). And the salt of the earth; “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13)   It’s very hard to be the light of the world if you cannot speak in His name.  And to silence yourself is to give up your salt and hide your light.

     The world does everything it can to suppress His name and take the savour out of our salt.  This happened to Peter and John; “But that it [the Gospel] spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”  (Acts 4:17,18)  Today, too many of our Canadian leaders see Christians and the work of spreading the Gospel in a negative light; “ ‘I  have no objection to faith-based organizations providing services. Sally Ann (the Salvation Army) and others have been doing a great job for years. But these people are evangelical fundamentalists,’ Martin said. ‘Offering much-needed sports opportunities is just their way of luring in young prospects. ‘ ” (MP Pat Martin)  ‘Lure’ them to what – abundant life?  When Caesar demands that we shut up about Jesus and just be nice what do we do?

      Put God first and be a light on a hill. Provide salt in a world that has no seasoning.    This need not be done by ‘shoving Jesus in your neighbour’s face’ but rather by expressing His light  through kindness and help done in His name.  Love your neighbour by showing him what God has done for you!  Peter and John came up with the best response;  “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20)  Simple testimony is a powerful witness; a man cannot help but speak about that which has saved him and his family. 

     Let us do likewise.

     Praise the Lord!