Monday, November 19, 2012

Submitting to Caesar

Jesus warned to his listeners about submitting to political power.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Luke 20:25).
Christians have made this complicated, but it is not. Everything on earth belongs to God. Nothing belongs to Caesar. So, Jesus was saying subtlety that we owe nothing to Caesar. I have written on this before in Voluntary Taxation.

I have just gained another insight on this passage. The coin bearing Caesar’s image represents the Roman political and economic system. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were all wrapped up in that system. They had gained their positions and wealth through collaboration with the Romans. They were dependent on Caesar’s money system for all their transactions.

Given that they were wrapped up in Caesar’s system, they could not object to paying taxes to the Romans.

Christians belong to the Kingdom of God. Caesar’s system has nothing to do with God’s kingdom. As the Kingdom of God, we should develop alternative economic system. Giving and sharing will be much more important. Christians might need to develop and alternative money system.

When we go into the world, we are like tourists visiting another country. A tourist might have to pay value added tax, but they do not pay income tax, because they do not belong to the country that they are visiting.

Christians may have to pay taxes to worldly governments, because they need to be in the world for their witness. But they do not owe taxes to the world system. If they do think they owe them, then they are probably too wrapped up in the world system.

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