Text: Luke 20:19-26
The last thing that I’d want to do is wade into a political mine field, but the text before me today contains the famous reply of Jesus, “Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s, and to God, what is God’s.” It is a reply that asks us at a fundamental level to examine priorities. It seems that Sarah Palin – to the great consternation and bafflement of careerist politicians and commentators – was thinking about priorities recently. Of all places it seems the NY Times runs a article that gets the Alaska governor. (HT Rod Dreher who adds some good comments about advising his kids vocational choices)
Most of us kinda stumble through life with a rough prioritization of things being whatever screams the loudest at the moment. Living in a house with three children six and under, that often means a literal scream. We also hear from the mental health community all the time about a healthy balanced life. Often that means placing ourselves first and everything else gets attention only as it impacts our healthy balance. Pastors are commonly told to not lose the self or the family in the course of being a Pastor. All of those sources usually boil down to some flow-chart list like: 1. God, 2. Self, 3. Family and 4. Church – like we can stop in the middle of life and neatly sort out what falls into each of those buckets. That is what modernity is good at doing, fragmenting and segmenting life.
But that is not what Jesus consistently says. Give to God the things that are God’s. Not that Ceasar doesn’t get his due, but even Caesar gets put under an authority. Or Jesus says things like “seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added…Matt 6:33). The consistant witness seems to be get the first thing first and leave the rest to God. God adds things to us. Modernity wants to subtract and fragment. Aim for the kingdom, and God wants to add. That is a fundamentally different view. Act in everything with the Kingdom in mind. Yes we will mess us. Yes we will be selfish and delude ourselves about our choices. We are fallen creatures. But it doesn’t say find the kingdom first, it says seek. God will do the rest. Getting that first priority right means a lot more than any of the others. It also means don’t lose sight of the person who is doing all the rest – God. It also doesn’t say anything about how we may like or dislike what God chooses to add. Jeremiah complains about just that (Jeremiah 20:7) when he says the Lord decieved him. The addition of all these things should not be confused with simple material prosperity.