Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Torn Between Two Loves

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." And they were amazed at him.
– Mark 12:13-17

I love being an American citizen. I have an American flag and Kentucky state flag that hangs in my garage. My father and two uncles served in the Korean War and World War II, respectively. As I prepare to leave for England, I realize that America, despite its quirks, is a great place to live. We are indeed a melting pot, and our diversity makes life interesting and fun.

I also know that my baptism called my allegiance to Christ above all – even country. I leave for the polls today to vote – something I don’t always enjoy doing. And as I get my keys to get into my car, I will also see my jury summons for U.S. District Court. I have jury duty for 60 days starting December 3rd.

Could I get out of jury duty? Maybe. Do I have to vote? Of course not. One of the privileges of being American is the right not to vote. But citizenship, just like discipleship, has responsibilities too. If we love God, out of gratitude for sacrificing His son we take things on. As the writer of James noted, “Faith without works is dead.” The same goes for citizenship: we need to be involved in our communities. Fire departments need volunteers. Communities and cities need council members, commissioners, and representatives. And out of gratitude for those who have sacrificed for our country, we ought to vote. Even if we write in Mickey Mouse’s name.

I wrestled for a long time about faith and politics. I came to the conclusion a few years ago that Christians ought to make darned good citizens. Yes, sometimes our faith will clash with our citizenship. As I was taught in counseling classes: you can’t ever get rid of conflict – you just learn how to manage it. It’s okay to give the things that are Caesar’s to Caesar. Just be sure you give to God what is God’s.


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