September 8

September 8
by Pastor Judy
They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him. Mark 12:15b-17
Jesus refused to be drawn into the polarization of politics. Instead, he treated each person individually and according to their need. Whether it was a Canaanite woman asking Jesus to heal her daughter, or a Roman centurion pleading on behalf of his slave, Jesus treated those in need with compassion. While he called out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as a group, he also sat down with Nicodemus for a searching conversation about faith. He treated each person with dignity, respect and love.
We are now officially in the election season, and political tensions are running high. Political movements naturally drive people to choose sides and to draw boundaries. That’s how elections work, of course. But it is worth remembering that Jesus calls us to a different kingdom. Caesar should be given his due; but we belong to Christ.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a good thing to be politically involved. Democracy calls for our involvement. But while we do so, we need to remember that our primary citizenship is in the Kingdom of God, where Jesus is Lord. Our primary allegiance is to the God of justice and mercy. While I may join a protest, I may not treat people on the other side with contempt or cruelty.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to take a stand on a higher moral ground. Philip Yancey speaks of God’s people as being “grace dispensers.” Jesus called us the salt of the earth. We are to season our speech with grace; offer kindness to all, regardless of political affiliation. Whatever rouses our civic fervor we, as Christians, are called to temper that fervor with humility. There is something bigger at stake, and we always need to be aware of that.
It helps me to remember that the fruit of the Spirit are these: love, joy, peace; patience, kindness, goodness; faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Paul reminds us that against such, there is no law.
As fellow citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, let us find our common ground in Christ alone. Offer our Lord the worship due to him as you listen (and sing).

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