Trust and Allegiance

Available on YouTube.

We have been taught to avoid religion and politic among polite company.

However, this is a disservice to our lives as individuals, community, and entre world. We should be taught how to be in respectful dialogue about both religion and politics, which listens to understand rather than listens to respond.

Our language for ‘politics’ is from the Greek word for citizen/city (public), it is the language used to describe our public life together. The opinions about how our public life together should be lived is as numerous as persons existing within all time and all places. This leads to potentially harmful and destructive dialogue among family, loved ones, friends, co-workers, and beyond.

Jesus did not avoid public life, or politics.

We enter into a conversation between Jesus and the religious elite, the dichotomy that has been established in this context is rather intense.

The religious elite question Jesus about a topic people have loved throughout the ages… NOT. It is about the lawfulness of paying (Roman) taxes. Their question is not rooted in mere curiosity or an intellectual exercise, but it is rooted in a malicious intent to entrap Jesus with words of treason against the Roman Empire.

Jesus will not be so easily tricked.

Jesus asks these religious elite to produce a Roman coin, which they can.
It displays the image of the Caesar and his inscription upon it.

Jesus tells these religious elite to give to Caesar want belong to Caesar, or give to the Roman political life what belongs to it. Jesus continues teaching that we are to give to God, what belongs to God.

Jesus transforms the question into one about where we place our trust and our allegiance.

Martin Luther discussed that the source of our greatest trust and allegiance is our god. We often hear this language in association with substance abuse or an addiction for wealth, power, authority or otherwise.

But, these religious elite were displaying their trust and allegiance in Rome, perhaps in the security of Pax Romana (“Peace of Rome”) established and maintained through oppression and violence as needed. This “peace” is not aligned with the Hebrew Scriptures summarized as a mission of seeking
justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Where do we place our trust and allegiance?
Where do you place your trust and allegiance?

  • the United States of America;
  • elected officials/candidates; or
  • the Democrat or Republican Parties.
  • the Christian Church;
  • Lutheran Confessional teachings;
  • the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); or
  • Trinity Lutheran Church.

Perhaps, we place our trust and allegiance in another human institution.
Perhaps, we place our trust and allegiance in our relationships with:

  • a parent;
  • a significant other;
  • a child;
  • a friend; or
  • a pet.

In another words, our trust and allegiance must be prioritized.

God is not naïve. God is aware that we place trust and give allegiance to institutions and persons.

But, what or who is at the top of of our priority?

We, similar to the Roman coin, bear an image.
We bear the image of God, the image of Christ.

We, similar to the Roman coin, have an inscription.
It is written on our hearts by God alone, it is the law or teaching and it reads “You are ay beloved”.

We are called to give God what belongs to God.
That is our entre being: mind, body, soul, trust, and allegiance.

God uses people, in their personal and public life, to bring forth the Kingdom of God to Come through justice, compassion, mercy, love, and service.

God uses human institutions to bring forth the Kingdom of God to Come again through justice, compassion, mercy, love, and service.

God, again, can use any person to bring forth said Kingdom to Come including the Gentle (uncircumcised, pork eating Pagan) political leader in our Isaiah passage.

This Kingdom to Come should be the frim ground all our personal and public action is rooted. It should be the priority, well above and beyond:

• nations;
• governments;
• leaders;
• political organizations;
• religious institutions;
• human relationships; and
• otherwise.

Where do you place your trust and allegiance?
Where do we place our trust and allegiance?

May it always and forever be in the Triune God
who has placed the divine image upon us and
who wrote the inscription “You are my beloved” upon our hearts.

May our personal and public lives reflect
the justice, compassion, mercy, love and service
of the Kingdom to Come.

Scriptures were Isaiah 45: 1-7 and Matthew 22: 15-22.
Originally preached 18 Oct. 2020 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, Indiana)

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