“And they came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.”
Unlike those who choose to pick which sins they stand against; I submit to the theological reality that I am not called to bring about a theocratic world kingdom. Just as Paul nor any other apostle was not sent to overthrow the Roman government that existed, but rather preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which declared that all have sinned (and are sinners) until atoned with God, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I believe I see clearer than many whose views are filtered through and guided by a nationalistic paternalism, to the degree that they forget that the Kingdom of God is to be lived out as we see in Acts 2, 4-6.
Preceding the Lukan writing of ACTS we find in Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:12-17, and Luke 20:19-26 a moment chronicled when religious manipulators and political strategist attempted to discredit Jesus’s ministry and Apostolic assignment by setting up a scenario which they hoped would gain them the upper hand against Him.
But to their shock and dismay, Jesus pointedly and clearly makes a distinction between what is God’s and what is Caesar’s. In no way does he accommodate the Roman political party nor does he side with the zealots who sought to overthrow the Roman government with its’ idolatrous cults.
For had Jesus agreed to side with Rome He would’ve lost the confidence of those who recognized Rome as an incredulous and oppressive usurper of all things they held dear. Yet, if Jesus had sided with the Jewish sympathizers, He would’ve been prematurely arrested as a traitor to Roman law and His ministry would’ve been derailed before the divinely crafted timetable established by His heavenly Father.
Subsequently Jesus teaches His disciples and us how we are to work within – even subversively – the corrupt systems which are commonplace, by reaching those within those systems. Jesus clarifies that He wants our lives, not our political affiliations to dictate and represent the heart and mind of God towards others, thereby shifting the value upon the image of the person; the tselos; not the valuation enacted by a sinful and inherently corrupt system of men’s preferences which only reflect their egos and pursuit of earthly power.
I also find it odd how some people who are Christian can maintain allegiances with the moral degradations of one person over the ethical degradations of another. Both are sinners – and sinful – to some degree or another. Yet, spurn me because I refuse to – or rather choose not to – deny myself, or my children, or their ancestors’ sacrifices, the privilege or right to act decisively simply because I am not given an “ideal” candidate.
That is immature and tomfoolery at its highest level. And at the lowest level, a display of “bait-&-switch” or their attempting to create an emotional sense of “buyer’s remorse” prior to a decision being made. This is an old and inflammatory method to sway the minds of people by leading to one dimensional arguments that are in fact non-sequiturs to a orthodox Biblical teaching of Christian ethics. The honor derived to make a choice and declare it through my ballot is something I hold very dearly; but I do not worship.
[My] ballot decision is not a desired means or hope of creating a Heavenly kingdom here on earth, and nor should it be interpreted as such. Such deformed theology as that is what has promoted the creation of false doctrines such as Dominionism – where many ultra-conservatives like to falsely promote America as a Christian nation; as it clearly is not.
Nor does God ever intend to have any [political] nation stand and represent His kingdom. Jesus became the end of that form of representation even for the nation of Israel through Himself; replacing their identity with God through Land, TORAH, familial Name, and Temple. Now a person’s identity with God is acquired solely through the hearts and minds of His disciples; by grace through faith alone. We, who must live and work in concert with non-believers, other believers of various persuasions and even those who are antagonistic against the Christian Faith.
Lastly, regarding the questionable and volatile act of abortion raised by some as a definitive marker for discrediting my decision. (It was somehow reminiscent of Jesus’ challenge – slightly, though not specifically.)
How would any of you counsel a woman raped repeatedly by her White slave master in whether to terminate a child created out of such an evil and inhumane social construct? And I probably know your heartfelt and conservative answer – to which I would probably agree. But the point of my question is that God’s grace cannot be metered or judged by any person or system. At the risk of raising an argument against antinomianism – of which I do not support- my supposition is that though we may not like it, there is even grace for the slave master as well as the rape victim.
I say foul to those who 0nce again, are maintaining that some form or function of political legislation is the response to such acts of sinfulness; when in fact it will never be; nor ever has been; the plan God instituted. The purpose of legislative law(s) in God’s economy was to show the human of three divinely desired outcomes: 1) their inability to keep the law perfectly; 2) the increasing effects of sin as a reaction to their failing to keep the law perfectly; and 3) the gracious love of God as it rose to meet every failure upon failure upon failure of man’s ability to keep the law perfectly. The apostle Paul clarified it in his letter to the Roman church in Romans 5:20 “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”.
Finally, to those who disagree with my position, I appreciate your disdain and can only respond personally with Paul’s words “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” as I hold firm to the hope and truth that #thereisgrace4me2.
ΑΩ ~ Reverend A. David Griffin, M.Div.