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  • Writer's pictureFirst Pres Bakerstown

Render to Caesar as One Who Is God's by Pastor Paul Becker

Matthew 22:15-21

Matthew 5:13-16

Sunday's sermon opened with a reminder of the lesson we learned from the same passage from the previous Sunday. The first sermon established that just as a Roman coin had Caesar's image on it, the image we bear is Christ's. And just as taxes are rendered to Caesar, we render ourselves to God. If we dare ask ourselves, "What do we render to God?" The answer is undeniable: We render our entire lives to God because we have been saved by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

The question we considered this week was: As those who are rendered to God, what do we render to Caesar? The text addressed the issue of paying taxes. Jesus' teaching also frames our American context. Yes, we are taxed, but we render other things to the government, including our participation in the political process through our votes, communications with our local State and Federal representatives, and local governing authorities, including County, Township and School Boards.

As citizens under the authority of earthly kingdoms, we engage as citizens of God's present and eternal Kingdom. To think, speak, and behave as ambassadors of Christ is challenging. We can be tempted to withdraw into spiritual huddles or use power to compel all people to live according to the laws in Scripture. We come from a Reformed Theological tradition that does not support either posture. No, we are to be salt and light in the world. Our involvement in the "things of Caesar" includes being "salt-like-preserving agents" who engage in government and culture to curb evil and advance goodness. We also need to know that the world, fallen into sin, hates Christ (Jn 15:18-27). And where hatred of Christ exists, darkness rules. God's claim on us puts us in a position to pursue and proclaim God's truth to defeat the darkness.

A recent film, The Sound of Freedom, has caused quite a stir in our culture because it raises the evil specter of human trafficking, especially children. Is it true? Is it falsehood? We heard statistics from the Department of Homeland Security. The truth is that children are sexualized and reduced to objects of personal pleasure and black-market commodities. And beyond the issue of human trafficking, children are reduced to political pawns to advance worldviews that deny that humans were created in the image of God, in need of salvation from sin which mars God's image, and redeemed to bear the image of God through Christ.

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