In the World but Not of the World
Having two citizenships gets complicated. This is especially true when one is a civil citizenship whose standards are based on a constantly contentious changing moral code and the other a spiritual loyalty based on the unchanging Word of God. Jesus knew this difficulty living both as a human and as of divine origin. Roman political and military dominance, a culture greatly reflecting Greek philosophy and a Jewish theological mandate kept life unsettled.
The question was: On any issue what does the Roman authority approve of or disapprove? What does Greek thinking endorse or discourage? What is good or evil according to Jewish law? Three arenas of authority: Political, Moral, and Religious. Try satisfying all of them with one answer to any question. How Jesus managed should be instructive for us.
To whom should priority be given: God, Government or Culture?
Is it possible to satisfy more than one?
What attitude should we convey to all parties?
An example: Tax time has arrived and Jesus is asked if it is lawful to pay the government. Jesus sends Peter to catch a fish in whose mouth is a coin with an inscription on it. Jesus asked whose the inscription is. The answer is “Caesar”. He replies, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things that are God’s”
It is not to imply that Jesus approves of Caesar or how all the tax money will be spent. Jesus does not call for withholding a portion as a demonstration of protest with government policies. Jesus is not responsible for the misuse of tax dollars. His ministry purpose is more important than a diversion of attention to civil tax policy. What is most important, Jesus keeps as most important. His priority is to bring the salvation of God to all people.
The greater the number of people in a society who reflect a kingdom view the greater can be the influence on the moral standards in civil life. If we don’t like the moral decline of the country the answer is for us to be more intentional in leading more people to a saving knowledge of Jesus. His most important thing is ours also. Is it possible a substantial number of people will take offense at having a kingdom view reflected in moral standards? Absolutely Yes! After all, we are still in the world, just not living according to the attitudes and behavior of this world.