Meditation

Meditation for 08/27/2019

“You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.” (Ezra7:24)

Exempting religious bodies from taxes is a government tradition with a long, long history. It is a way by which government honors religious bodies and the good work they do. It is not a God-given right. Churches should demand from the state this exemption, for as religious institutions they should always be careful to avoid any actions which tie them to the state for support.

This long time exemption is currently under fire from many areas of society, though as noted, the churches have done work to benefit society for as long as they have been around. This should never not be the case, as our foundation of faith is built on the belief that we are to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, You have given us the task of loving our neighbors, those we live and work with, those that are homeless and in daily danger, those who don’t always agree with us or we them, and those that simply cannot take care of themselves for a variety of reasons. We are not to question why they need our help, only that we recognize the needs and respond to them. This we need help daily, and ask in Jesus’ name, for Your help and direction to fulfill the needs as best we can. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Christ can turn your setbacks into comebacks.

KNOWING GOD:

“If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge saints? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that they is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another —and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.” (1st Corinthians6:1-8)

Paul was distressed that the Corinthians had so quickly fallen back on the civil courts. Such a development indicated not that problems cannot develop between fellow Christians but that they had been so immature to let conflict resolution get beyond the power of Christian love, forgiveness, and reconciliation to act. Paul had been forced to appeal his case to civil authorities (Acts 25:11), but his was not a dispute among Christians. The church should be able to find people and processes to settle disputes among members without going to civil courts.

I AM:

Christian Ethics, Church and State: (Acts16:3740)

“But Paul said to the officers: ‘They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.’ The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them form the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.”

The appeal of Paul and Silas on the grounds of their Roman citizenship provides a good example of making the government watch out for its citizens, part of its God-ordained responsibility on behalf of justice. Governments should establish a system of justice that prevents punishment of people for carrying out religious and evangelistic activities. Free exercise of religion should be every citizen’s right. This scriptural standpoint is not shared, however, by systems which do not recognize God. In such societies Christians need to work to change the system while being prepared to endure the legal punishments of the system.

Second Thought of the Day:

“Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians t Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, ‘Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay not attention to who they are, but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right t pay taxes to “Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we? But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. ‘Why are you trying to trap me? He asked. ‘Bring me a denarious and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” ‘Caesar’s, they replied. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” And they were amazed at him. (Mark12:13-17)

This passage is Paul’s mist concise summary of Christians relationship to the state. He based his arguments on the order of creation. God has ordained order rather than disorder. Thus He has established the principle of government. Paul did not describe any particular system of government as God’s choice. Remember he lived under the rule of the Roman empire and could argue that event eh Caesars and their appointees were deserving of honor. They were acting on behalf of the principle of government and justice which stands for order out of chaos.

The Pharisees clearly sought to trap Jesus in a position which lent loyalty to Caesar and not to God. They wanted to level a charge of blasphemy against Jesus. By getting Him to declare non-allegiance to Caesar, they could get Him charged with a civil crime. Both of the attempts failed.

Jesus’ response does not resolve all of our questions regarding the responsibilities we have with church and state, but He does provide some beginning places to inform us. His answer implies we do have responsibilities to the state. These extend only to those ‘things’ that are Caesar’s. A yet higher allegiance pulls upon us, too. We must be faithful to those things of God

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