The Scripture readings this week are:
- Psalm 24 (VU p.751)
- Mark 12:13-17
Early Thoughts: But which are which? That is the key question....
During the last week of his life Jesus is asked a question about taxation. It could be a no-win situation. Support paying the tax to an oppressive regime and lose favour with the crowds or speak out against the tax and commit a crime....
Out of the exchange we get one of the phrases that echoes through the ages, particularly in the King James Version wording: "Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's and to God those things that are God's". The coin is claimed by Caesar, it has his name and face, so give it back to him. But what is God's? What are we supposed to give (back?) to God?
In part this is a story about loyalty, about choosing which side we are on. Do we align with the kingdom(s) of the Caesars or the Kingdom of God?
I think it is also about ownership and debt. We live in a world where we are (often overtly) encouraged to live by maxims like "what's mine is mine" and "I just want what I am entitled to". Are such claims compatible with being a follower of Christ? How? How are they problematic?
Given a chance there are forces (governments, individuals, even our own psyches) that will lay claim to everything in our world. Jesus comes from the religious tradition that gives us the Creation stories in Genesis, that gives us those opening words of Psalm 24 "The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it". Competing claims of ownership to be sure.
So what do you think are "those things that are God's"?