But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” (Mt 22)
And the Revised Common Lectionary (www.commontexts.org) hits us over the head like a two-by-four this week, as early voting commences, as elections loom, and tax proposals hang in the air, and as the American political process rages in a way like it feels it never has before.
Matthew 22:15-22. Jesus’s last days are at hand, and while he’s tested with a question about taxes, he commences with a short and powerful sermon about righteousness and loyalties: ” Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” We’ll gather this Sunday to ruminate on what this means for us as November 3 approaches. A lot of thoughts are rumbling around in my spirit. I Hope to worship with you on Sunday morning one way or another!
One simple conclusion is that this text comes to us as a holy reminder as people belonging to Christ that we bear the image of the One who suffered and died on a cross. Of this Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas write: “The cross is not a sign of the church’s quiet, suffering submission to the powers that be, but rather the church’s revolutionary participation in the victory of Christ over those powers. The overriding political task of the church is to be the community of the cross.” (Resident Aliens, p. 47). Moreover, simply as human beings, we bear the image of our Creator, who said, “Let us make humankind in our own image.” (Gen 1:26). The Roman coin Jesus now holds in his hand bears the image of the emperor. As human beings, we bear God’s image. Which means, if we keep the analogy going, that we owe God everything — our whole and entire selves.
So as those who bear God’s image and likeness, and in particular who seek to live out of the love of Christ, who is God in human flesh– how do we reconcile in these hard days the splintering of our families, churches, and communities over political and and cultural differences that seem almost unbridgeable?
No easy answers. Lots to consider. Stay tuned. Think about it. Pray about it! See you Sunday.