Rendering to Caesar on Election Day

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Jesus said that some things that are mine belong to Caesar, but that all things that are mine belong to God (Mt. 22:21). On Election Day, Nov. 4, 2014, I render to the State of Illinois and to Washington D.C. what I owe them – says them. Every three weeks I write these two checks to pay all of my taxes, no more and no less than what I owe. As a pastor (who is self-employed and employed at the same time), I do what all self-employed people do – pay all taxes out of personal income. I wonder what the vote would look like today if every single American tax-payer had to pay all their taxes directly out of their checking account? Here is a partial list of where our tax dollars went in 2013:

$107,000 to study the sex life of the Japanese quail.
$1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck.
$150,000 to study the Hatfield-McCoy feud.
$84,000 to find out why people fall in love.
$1 million to study why people don’t ride bikes to work.
$19 million to examine gas emissions from cow flatulence.
$144,000 to see if pigeons follow human economic laws.
$219,000 to teach college students how to watch television.
$2 million to construct an ancient Hawaiian canoe.
$20 million for a demonstration project to build wooden bridges.
$160,000 to study if you can hex an opponent by drawing an X on his chest.
$800,000 for a restroom on Mt. McKinley.
$100,000 to study how to avoid falling spacecraft.
$16,000 to study the operation of the komungo, a Korean stringed instrument.
$1 million to preserve a sewer in Trenton, NJ, as a historic monument.
$6,000 for a document on Worcestershire sauce.
$10,000 to study the effect of naval communications on a bull’s potency.
$100,000 to research soybean-based ink.
$1 million for a Seafood Consumer Center.
$57,000 spent by the Executive Branch for gold-embossed playing cards on Air Force Two.

And yet Jesus said to pay what I owe. Jesus knows that governments are corrupt – he’s not blind; he knows that Caesar would be foolish and that he would commit terrible atrocities with my money – like murdering babies in the womb. However, giving Caesar some slack, we are thankful for police protection, fireman, infrastructure, research, education, aid to the poor, the abused, the homeless, the sick and feeble among us – and many other good things. But we do not live in a perfect and just society – not yet. One day, all lovers of Christ will live under a perfect King, for the meek will inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5). Therefore, paying taxes and voting is my obedience and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that he will see to it that in the end my labor is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

Otherwise, voting and paying taxes would drive me crazy. I need a pizza!

 

Wisdom for another year: Rest in God’s Sovereignty, #10 of 10.

Wisdom says,

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.     All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.      Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.                                The LORD has made everything for it’s purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble . .  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.                            The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” Proverbs 16:1-4, 9b; 21:1

Notice a few things from God’s Word:

1. God’s control of all things does not nullify your plans and work. But his control does trump your plans and work in such a way that what you plan to do never takes place outside of his complete control of your life.

2. If that is true, your heart will either cynically say, “then it doesn’t matter what I do,” or it will joyfully say, “then I will work and plan, trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment of his will upon my life.”

3. All evil in the world is under God’s control to corral it to the day of judgement. He turns the heart of the most wicked dictator in whatever direction that serves the ultimate goal to magnify King Jesus as the true King of kings and Lord of lords. And if the most powerful dictator in the world can easily be man-handled by God, then all the power-brokers and suits and CEO’s in the world are no challenge; even mothers who sit on their influential thrones ruling over PTA meetings and community boards, demanding their “rights” while not loving Jesus and submitting their lives to his Lordship will also come face to face with his Majesty.

The Lord said through Joshua,

Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses” – Joshua 11:18-20.

In the full scope of Scripture and Salvation history, lovers of Jesus Christ can rest in God’s control of evil in the world. Evil will not win the day in the end. God is not creating fresh evil in innocent hearts, but he is seeing to it that opposition to his gospel will only serve to prove that you cannot oppose God, thinking that your rebellion will undermine his rule. All opposition to Jesus Christ will only serve the ultimate goal of exalting his Authority over all things, including evil.

This solid truth does not cause apathy, but rather peaceful consolation in the hearts of those who follow Christ. All fussiness and fretfulness of living in an evil world is put to rest.