This seems so simple, and yet it is not. This seems so direct, and yet it is not: Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's,and to God the things that are God's. Jesus says this to the Pharisees that are trying to entrap him in their plotting to have him killed by the Romans.
We are called by God to be of this world but not, to be part of and in this world, but not. Two seemingly diametrically opposed instructions to allow us to live into the kingdom. One of the things Jesus is saying today is that we must be in this world, operate within the parameters and frameworks of it, but not allow those parameters and frameworks to dictate or control what should be the center of our existence: God.
If we base at the center of our understanding of the world our belief in God's love for all, those "worldly" things, those rules and regulations that can get in the way of being centered in God, take their proper place. As we are called to be God's representatives here, as the Body of Christ in the world, well than we will not be able to fail if we keep ourselves centered in God's love. Will we be successful al the time, bring the secular world along to where it should be, not always. That does not mean we should either stop trying, or that we shouldn't find some way to still accommodate those issues of equality and justice for all in all of our actions.
Such a simple concept Jesus provides for us today, hard to effectuate, but always possible. A good thing to contemplate as we enter the second week of Advent.
Copyright 2009, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.