Separation of Church and State

“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (KJV). Yes, it is a verse with which most of us are familiar and can probably quote. There is such a simplicity and directness in Jesus’ answer that we are to give to Caesar, that is the State, the things that belong to the State, and that we are to give to God the things that belong to God. It seems to set forth a rather primal formation of the idea of separation of Church and State, a line that is often confused, abused, ignored, or denied depending on what, if any, political agenda someone is trying to advance or defeat. Hoping to avoid politics, though I might have a word or two to say related to that topic, I would like to reflect on something else. In the King James version, and in other translations, Jesus asks his inquisitors what “likeness” or “image” they see on the coin, to which they respond “Caesar.” Let’s turn the question around. What if we as Christians asked him if we were supposed to give to God anything? Jesus would then tell us to look at ourselves in the mirror and would ask us “Whose likeness or image do you see?” What would be our response? Per Genesis 1:26, we are created in God’s “image.” As Christians, we are to be renewed “according to the image of the One who created us” (Col 3:10) and conform to the “image of His Son” (Rom 8:29), who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). We are the very image of God! Should we not then render unto God what is God’s? If you say yes, then as a good Methodist we are to render unto God our “prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness” as it says in our baptismal vows. Join us this Sunday at 11:00 in-person or on-line as I preach on “Church and State.”

Matt 22:21: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (KJV).

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