I read a Facebook post last week blasting Vice-President Mike Pence’s tie breaking vote to nominate Betsy Devos as the next Secretary of Education. Moments later a heard a Fox News host discuss a movement to boycott Nordstrom’s after they dropped the Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. While listening to Talk Radio on my way to lunch, I heard soundbites of Democratic plans to continue to fight, obstruct and take president Donald Trump to court. After less than a month of America’s 45th president, I’m all boycotted out.
For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed, Romans 13:6-7.
I’ve heard several thousand sermons over the years, but one applies to this topic. Early on in the 1990’s, Kmart did something to outrage Christians. I don’t recall what it was, yet there were several members of Cornerstone Church pressuring Pastor Paul to get behind a movement to boycott Kmart. During a private conversation, Paul had a Solomon like moment, making a brilliant point. “How can I lead this congregation and look a mother in the eyes who just happens to work at Kmart? It’s not her fault. Sometimes you have to stay out of the fray and let the situation please itself out.”
Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” Matthew 22:17-21.
Jesus had a similar discussion when religious leaders accused him of being against taxes. Using this topic as a teachable moment, Jesus makes an important distinction between God and the government. This simplistic reply silences Jesus’ political critics. Perhaps, the leaders of this country need to apply this same principle today. Sure, disagreements lead to gridlock. Nonetheless, give to God what is God’s and give to the government what is due. While boycotts might make some people feel good, the love of Christ calls individuals to turn the other cheek. May the Holy Spirit soften hardened hearts and restore a sense of unity.
by Jay Mankus