Matthew 22:15-22 (click for full reading)
“…Then He said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
(click on the title above to listen to the sermon)
In our Gospel text for today, we even see members of two opposing first-century religious parties teaming up in an effort to trick Jesus by asking him “Tell us Jesus–since you’re so smart and always have an honest answer for any question that is asked of you–is it proper for those who follow you to pay taxes to the emperor, to Caesar, or not?”
There they are with a coin that has Caesar’s idolatrous image on it, asking what they thought was a trick political question and Jesus makes it a question about worship.
Every time we gather as the church, for almost any reason, this is the question beneath and beyond all our questions. Whom do we worship?
Jesus turns our attention to what we should value most. He turns our attention to our neighbor in need, to those left out by a culture that values wealth and power over other things such as kindness and generosity. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
That’s what we’re after during these next five weeks together, hearts so full of gratitude and grace that our lives spill over with generosity. People will see it in our eyes. They will see it in our church.
Questions to Ponder/Discuss
1. The faith statement “In God we trust” is printed on our money. How does our use of that money connect to that statement?
Another statement printed on our currency is e pluribus unum, “from many one.” How does this statement relate to the first statement, “In God we trust”?
2. When it comes to your commitment to your church, which seems more difficult to increase, the giving of time or the giving of money?
3. Most photos on US currency are of former presidents. How would it change how you think about your use of money if there were a picture of a cross instead?
This week try to glance often at the statement “In God we trust” printed on our currency, especially before you spend it on something. Use it as a reminder that all we have is a gift from our gracious God who calls us to live generously!