Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Matthew 22:18-21, where the Bible says,
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
GOOD NEWS AND GREAT NEWS!
I’ve got good news and I’ve got very good news. Ready? All the struggles of the moment, like COVID 19, civil unrest, and anxiety about the future, cannot ultimately overwhelm believers. Why? It’s not because of who we are, that’s for sure. We’ve got the same fears, anxieties, and challenges as other people. Thankfully, it has to do with who God is. The Bible proclaims that God is at work right now to preserve the world (Romans 13:1-7). And, even better, God is at work saving the world through the proclamation of the Gospel (Matthew 24:14; John 3:16). Jesus said a very interesting thing in today’s reading, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” A few days later as Jesus heads toward the cross, Pontus Pilate, the governor of Judea, claimed that he had authority over Jesus himself. Jesus responded, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above”(John 19:11). Wow! God is at work. He saves the world through the person and work of Jesus. THAT’S THE MAIN MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE.
Whether it’s amidst Roman rule, Greek city states, Egyptian pharoahs, or our constitutional republic, God is at work both to preserve and to save. Since the main message of the Bible is about saving the world through the unique person and work of Jesus Christ for all, God preserves the world so that all might hear it for themselves. God attempts to keep the world civil, humane, just, and safe (outwardly), even through people like Caesar and Pilate. You see, God is at work in the world in two distinct ways. First, he desires to keep things civil, humane, and just through His created orders of family, work, and government. As I like to put it, God works through fathers, mothers, businesspeople, and leaders, broken and sinful though they are. God still works through them to prevent chaos and all hell from breaking loose. That’s called God’s Left Hand Kingdom rule, His engagement to preserve order. That’s good news. But that’s not the great news of God’s Right Hand Kingdom work which freely grants salvation by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus. Yet the Left Hand Kingdom work of God, through even relatively moral unbelievers, is also part of His work of blessing.
When Christians engage in the public realm, though it is full of philosophies, ideologies, and appetites emanating from sinful, broken people just like us, we know that there is good work to do to keep things sane, humane, just, and safe. But that work is part of God’s greater work to get the ultimate message of Christ out there for all to hear. Yes, keep it orderly and safe, so the Church can speak. Keep it just, so chaos is kept at bay. Give us rules to live by, so there can be opportunities to share a message of grace over the fences of neighbors living side by side in peace. God’s two distinct ways in His “Two Kingdoms” involve two specific types of engagement, YET HIS ONE MISSION REMAINS TO ULTIMATELY BLESS THE WORLD NOW AND FOREVER IN AND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
PRAYER – Dear Lord Jesus, give us the commitment and will to be Your voice of the Law and the Gospel so that we might be a part of the solutions You have for our communities, as well as the voice of grace for hearts aware of their need for Your forgiveness. AMEN.