“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21b) This particular quote makes it very clear with regards to the relationship that must exist between the church and the state. We all know that when we use the term church and state it has to do with the relationships between these two institutions, the religious authority, and the secular authority. Jesus’ statement here is to encourage the recognition and support of lawful government so that both can work separately but go a long way to supplement each other. Romans 13:1 also says,
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
In our first reading from Isaiah, the LORD refers to Cyrus as ‘His anointed’ but this reference does not connote Cyrus’ righteousness or holiness but rather what God himself will do through Cyrus. God had a purpose for Cyrus, so he called him by his name, through Cyrus the Jewish captives in Babylonia were freed and allowed to return to their homeland. Our government institutions may not be perfect, but God can still use them to fulfil his purpose for his people and will also use the church to help make the world a better place. All authority, and wisdom belong to God, there is no other God besides him and does what pleases him at every point in time.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,”. (Isaiah 45:5)
Dear people of God, the Pharisees as we are all aware claim self-righteousness and are the definition of hypocrisy. They always find ways to entangle people whom they see as disagreeing with the things they do. Such people can be seen everywhere, they are in churches, homes, families, workplaces, voluntary organizations, in our communities, in the government etc. These Pharisees were bold enough to find a way to entangle Jesus Christ to push him to the wall to get him arrested. They came to Jesus and did a very good job by using flattery and sugar-quoted words.
“Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” (Matthew 22:16b)
indeed all the good things they said about Jesus were things they didn’t believe themselves. Beloved in Christ be very careful with people who come to you singing your praises, or portraying they love you more than Jesus Christ because not all of them are genuine, always be prayerful, and sober and apply the wisdom of God. The Pharisees came to Jesus believing in themselves as cleverer than Jesus but what they failed to know and add in their sweet words was recognising Jesus as the son of God.
The question they asked was a very controversial one which if not answered with wisdom will lead to chaos. If Jesus were to say it was not lawful, it would be against the Roman government and by saying it was lawful meant denying his claim as messiah. Jesus knew exactly what they were about and gave them an answer which was not on their list. We will always come across these issues in our Christian journey so we should always be in tune with the Holy Spirit to give the right answers and do the right thing at the right time because the devil is very cunning. Being in tune with the spirit means taking the message of the cross seriously because God addresses fallen sinful humanity only through the cross of Jesus Christ. We are all children of God through the cross and our labour of love, patience, and hope all became possible through Jesus Christ. Everything we do whether good or bad comes under the scrutiny of God the Father and so we do not need the flattery of man but the approval of God.
We all must make our government and society better and we can do that by proclaiming the message of the cross to the world through the power of the Holy Spirit because he is the one who convicts.
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement:” (John 16:8)
When the proclamation of the gospel is well presented it yields good fruits and Paul and his companions can be seen as the true result of what the good news of the cross can do. This will help make our society better and the church would have played its role in the state. AMEN