Rendering to God what is God’s

th-34

Instead of trying to make society more Christian, we need to focus on making ourselves more vitally Christian in society. This is what Jesus would want.

Christians have spent an inordinate amount of time, money and effort in the last 30 years trying to make society more Christian. And to do so, we have bought heavily into politics as the way to go about changing the world. Bad move. Rather than making the world more Christian, it has ended up going the other way. The world’s influence on us has turned out to be much greater than our influence upon the world.

Jesus told his disciples to “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). These are separate realms with completely different goals, purposes and agendas. You cannot mix them. You can’t use one to serve the other. You can’t use Caesar to accomplish what God is after; nor can you use God to accomplish what Caesar is after. Jesus never told us to fix Caesar, or get Caesar to sit up and fly right.

Whenever Christians start talking about worldview, they often fail to make these distinctions. Therefore Christian worldview boils down to getting Caesar to be more like God. Not going to happen. These two are at cross-purposes to each other, just as American politics are at cross purposes to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The lure of power in politics is just too hard to avoid.

Not to say there isn’t a place for politics in the life of a Christian. We all have a responsibility to be good citizens — to be informed, to study the candidates and issues and vote accordingly — but there is not a “Christian” vote, or a “Christian” agenda. Politics are all about compromise; you have to give up one thing to get another and what you choose as a priority may not be what I would choose. Vote your conscience, but don’t think the country is going to be any more or less Christian based on how you vote. Your vote is your rendering to Caesar; your worship and obedience, your love for your neighbor and care for the less privileged in society is your rendering unto God.

In Johnny’s Cafe, your seat is not in the back where the Christians have taken over the corner booth. Nor is it to find a Johnny’s Christian Cafe where the whole place is supposedly Christian. No, your seat is at the counter where there’s one seat left that no one wants to take because it means you have a stranger on either side of you. That’s your seat — rubbing shoulders with the world.

I used to think we could reach the world with a Christian coffeehouse until I realized they already have a coffeehouse up the road where everybody goes, so why don’t we just go there?

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13 Responses to Rendering to God what is God’s

  1. Stan Klassen says:

    I like the “ The Catch” but I wonder if we are drawing a lot line, too fine, between the “counter” and the government body. If Christian’s can, and should, try to make a positive difference at the counter, why not in politics? Aren’t we commissioned to be salt and light everywhere? Perhaps if our motive in politics is to make it a Christian country, there may be merit to be ascribed to the argument, but if it’s to bring a positive life influence, then kindly provide the evidence where it does not.

    • Sandie says:

      Unfortunately Christians have tried to legislate morality…which is impossible, for only God can change a heart. While trying to accomplish claiming the U.S. for Christ, walls were thrown up for protection from the very same world we are supposedly trying to save. No wonder the world looks askance at believers. Note: We don’t save anybody; we are just the conduit the Holy Spirit works through…if we allow Him.
      This is not to say that we don’t bring our Christian viewpoint into every aspect of our lives. including the political arena. That doesn’t mean “shoving the dove,” so to speak. but a “coming alongside” as Pastor John teaches. It involves a respect for everyone, since we are all made in God’s image.
      I don’t know if I’m rambling…blessings!

  2. Mark says:

    I loved this: I used to think we could reach the world with a Christian coffeehouse until I realized they already have a coffeehouse up the road where everybody goes, so why don’t we just go there?

  3. Andrew P. says:

    I hear where you’re coming from John, and mostly agree. Still, when I read this, I can’t help but think that following your prescription wasn’t how Wilberforce got England to end the slave trade (and ultimately, slavery): “You can’t use Caesar to accomplish what God is after; nor can you use God to accomplish what Caesar is after. Jesus never told us to fix Caesar, or get Caesar to sit up and fly right.”

    While acknowledging that many, many believers have gotten things out of balance, I have to think there IS a balance, and a purely “hands off” approach isn’t what is in order.

    • jwfisch says:

      Did Wilberforce organize Christians towards one political party and one candidate to sway the balance of the Supreme Court in a certain direction, or was he a strong influential Christian with a conviction from which he persuaded people from both parties to see things from a godly perspective? Did he argue persuasively or organize politically? I honestly don’t know. Just asking.

  4. John A Fagliano says:

    When you vote for someone, you are putting your trust in someone you never met. There is no real assurance you made the right call. This is way different from putting your trust in Jesus with whom you have a personal relationship. Defend your faith in Christ but don’t always defend your vote because you can’t be that sure you didn’t make a mistake.

    Should Christians be involved in politics? Of course! There should be folks who are professing Christians involved as Democrats, Republicans, and other party’s. By doing so, there would be no single party or platform which could claim to be the one God is in favor of. ( What a self-righteous claim to make.) As long as we try to pass laws based not on our selfish desires but those which benefit everyone, we may not always make the right call, but if our hearts are in the right place we’ll get it right some of the time and make a better world for everyone.

    If you get into a debate with someone at Johnny’s cafe, who votes differently than you would, give them the benefit of the doubt that they were trying to do what they thought was right.

  5. Gary says:

    Wow there’s a Brawl a Brewing here. That old saying “don’t mix politics with religion ( faith ?). Be prepared with some good old frustration. Try to keep the Peace.

  6. Marc says:

    This reminds me of what Cal Thomas, former member of the Moral Majority says in his book Blinded by MIght. He points out that Christians have tried to change society while neglecting the most powerful tool we have for change, namely the Gospel. True, it only changes people one at a time, but it is powerful as Paul says:

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but [a]divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

    That is the way to change the world. One person at a time.

  7. Tim Logan says:

    I agree with Marc we change the world one person at a time that is why we must take the Good news of Jesus to everyone as John says it is the gospel of change. If you can change one life by opening someone’s eyes to the love of Jesus you never know how many lives will be affected by it you may share the good news with the next Billy Graham unknowingly and help change the world.

  8. Sonia Faletti says:

    I think our faith calls us to do more than vote. My husband worked for a member of Congress for 24 years. Government can be a power for good. Consider programs that help children and families who live in poverty, laws that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions, and assistance for refugees. Consider climate change, which is primarily caused by wealthy nations burning fossil fuels, but it is poor nations that are suffering the most in terms of harm to crops, rising sea levels, and loss of life.

    • Sandie says:

      Ecclesiates 9:10…Whatever is in front of you, wherever God places you…there is your ministry – there is your opportunity to be a witness. Not that you are continually preaching – but that you are continually and consistently and honestly, LIVING out the truth that Jesus placed in your heart. That wins respect for you and allows you to bring His light into your job or task. I found that out working in the public school sector. People who didn’t agree with me personally never-the-less granted me respect and support. We found where we agreed, namely what was best for the students, and accomplished many positive things together. And sometimes, we even became friends, which gave me opportunities to plant seeds (Quietly and respectfully).

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