Happy Forth of July! Oh and everything this country is based on is wrong. We should have bowed down to King George and paid him whatever he wanted, because Jesus said so. Not exactly. Jesus was using another living metaphor, as I have mentioned previously. I know because I tried it and it worked quite well.
I’m not sure that the people of Grace have a problem with paying their taxes. We in Montana tend to be very independent. But I have noticed that these independent people usually make up their own church or float from church to church. I know of only one person. So I spoke to him after the sermon. The non-tax paying types tend to be the ones always telling you about conspiracies and how the Federal Reserve is illegal, etc. etc. Watch Conspiracy Theory. So I asked this gentleman if he had any Federal Reserve Notes on him. He said yes. So I pointed out that whether he respected them as an authority in theory or not, he was treating them as an authority in practice. It may be the mark of the beast, but he had already accepted it. He got a little upset. This is exactly what Jesus was doing. It wasn’t just a simple statement which we rigidly apply, it was a living metaphor. Jesus made the theoretical real for them.
Jesus asked them for a coin, and they gave him one. These men who hated Caesar, bought and sold with Caesar’s money. The money in your pocket is made from cotton paper and some minerals that make ink. It’s not worth a lot, the value comes from the respect the people give to it. A napkin with ketchup on it isn’t worth much, so you throw it away. But when Caesar stamps his face on it it become valuable. If you go around spending this you are accepting this authority. Jesus made it real for them, they already respected Caesar as Lord over their money, so stop with the wining. Their crime was hypocrisy.
But there is more to the story. Render to God what is God’s. Whose image is on you? Genesis tells us you were made in the image of God. You don’t belong to Caesar and neither do your kids. I think this is the problem we are more susceptible to today. Christians are total wimps. We timidly accept anything Caesar tells us to do, and pastors bark out this verse as though we are never to ask any questions. We hand our kids over to these people without a second thought. Of course people in power love abusing this verse. “You can’t question me, the Bible says so.” But this is to forget our Christian history. I don’t just mean the history of this country but the history of Christians, working out these issues for the last 2000 years.
Calvin figured out a lot of this as he oversaw the flock in Geneva. He came up with the idea of lesser magistrates, from verses like Exodus 1:19, where the Hebrew midwives defy Pharaoh and lie to his face. The next verse says “So God dealt well with the midwives.” Calvin’s view was that lower magistrates or officials had, not only the right but the duty to hold higher officials to account if they violated the law. This view was put into the marginal notes of what became the Geneva Bible. This was the Bible our Founding Fathers carried. Until the homosexual tyrant King James, made a slick deal with the Puritans to make a new translation, sidelining the Geneva Bible. And so we have forgotten this heritage.
But it’s simply unconscionable that we Christians join with the liberal academics who hate this country for its Christianity, by bashing the founding as unBiblical. As more and more of our Children fall away, our fruit is rotting on the vine. Yet the founders produced fruit for generations, the world over benefits to this day. Those men, many of them trinitarian, orthodox Christians, didn’t just hold some theory in a cushy 21st century world. They put their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on the line before God and men. They were not breaking the law, they were holding the King to his own law. The duly appointed legislatures of the 13 colonies called the king on his abuse of power. They were lower magistrates, checking the tyranny of a higher magistrate. They did it in an orderly long-suffering manner They were the true Englishmen, preserving their Common Law heritage, in the face of a King overstepping his bounds. There was more law, more order and more freely practiced Christianity after they took their stand and the ensuing war, than before. The fruit of their labor is obvious, ours is not, yet we criticize.
Later political movements like the French Revolution, seemed at the start, as if they were on a similar path. But as many predicted before it happened, and everyone can see afterwards, they tainted the term ‘revolution’. The French Revolution was nothing but a rebellion against God. They sought to rebuild everything from the ground up in the image of man. They even threw out the calendar and the clock because they were too Christian and not scientific enough. As a result most of the instigators of the movement were killed by their own followers. The anarchy which followed led to much bloodshed and the destruction of everything Christianity had built. Eventually Napoleon came in and brought peace with an iron fist. But France has never recovered and they languish today as a godless wasteland. They bore bad fruit, because they were nothing more than rebels. The same is not true of the United States. These movements were contrasted in a few books by men at the time. Edmund Burke’s, Reflections on the Revolution in France and Frederich Von Gentz’s, The Origin and Principles of the American Revolution. . .
So, we can’t just take the words of Jesus and apply them to all times and places. We need to translate as I did above with this money metaphor. We need to think a little about the situation Jesus was in and how it applies, or does not apply to our own. At the time Jesus lived in a Jewish community occupied by Rome. There were many subversive groups all seeking to rebel against Rome. Every one of them was wiped out. They were wiped out because they missed their messiah. If they had listened to him, as many Christians did, they would flee to the hills and be spared. And so we see a caution like the one issued by Peter in I Peter 2:13-17. But we can’t forget what comes a few verses before “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to. . .” And how he begins the book “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” This was their situation. As a result of Christians doing what Peter said, Rome fell. They couldn’t compete with Christians being perfect model citizens. The Greek ideal citizen was being played out before them, the Christians helped the poor, took in the sick and cared for the abandoned children. And so Rome became Christian. The conquerers from the north conquered, and they became Christian. And today we are not sojourners and exiles in the land. Because the gospel has gone forth to all people and tribes and tongues, it has conquered. Today we are Christians sitting around waiting for Christendom to fall apart so we can look like exiles. It’s really very foolish. We should be taking action with Christian wisdom. We should repent of our sin, or laziness and call everyone else to repentance. We should push back against the illegal attacks upon our heritage. We should be laying down our lives our fortunes and our sacred honor, for future generations.
Because, when it all gets sorted out, we will not be praised for withstanding persecution, if we were to do so, we will be cursed for letting it fall apart in the first place. So do what’s right, stand up and protest this President and demand he be impeached, that’s how our law works. Complaining about it without action is just laziness, it’s the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus. Read the Old Testament, and see how God has historically worked with his people in other instances besides the first century. Read the history of other faithful Christians throughout time. Stay informed about what is going on. Pray.