Everything We Have

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“‘Tell us then, what is your opinion? is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?’… Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’” – Matthew 22:17, 21

Dear Friends,

In honor of Tax Day on Monday, I got to thinking about the little interaction that some religious leaders had with Jesus that Matthew tells us about in his gospel.

Let me first say, that none of us are really happy to pay our taxes, right?  I mean, we’re often happy to receive the benefits that those taxes come from – paved roads, extinguished fires, safe neighborhoods, beautiful parks, clean water – and all the rest.  But we’re usually looking for whatever way around paying for it we can find, I mean, there’s always someone who could be paying for it or more of it, than poor old us, right?

And let’s not get started about when the services we pay for aren’t up to snuff…

It’s the genius of getting your taxes deducted from your paycheck, and then getting a “return” later… it lessens the blow of paying them in the first place.  But I’m not here to debate tax policy.

No, what I was really thinking about was how Jesus turned a trap of a question into freedom for us all.  The question about paying taxes was the religious’ leaders attempt to trap Jesus into one camp or another – those who cozied up with the oppressive empire or those who were covertly or subversively fighting against it.  Jesus turned the tables.

Sure, Jesus said pay your taxes.  And in the very next breath, Jesus said to pay to God what God is owed.  And since God is the giver of life, the very source of our existence… well then, everything is owed to God.  And when we live life in that light… we find more peace than fighting about taxes.

I had several moments of pure joy while I was away, and they came during times of gratitude – gratitude to God for giving me the gift of five friends whom I’ve known for two decades; gratitude to God for ocean breezes, warm sunshine and a brisk walk to energize my body; gratitude for the gift of quiet moments to just be and know that without accomplishing anything, I’m still loved, just as I am.

I owe God absolutely everything.  Every breath and every experience is a gift.  That I get to live this life among you as your pastor, is a huge part of that and I’m so grateful for it.  All the little things I grumble about dealing with – from leaky tires to paying taxes – is just not in the same stratosphere as giving to God my attention and appreciation for what I’ve received.

Welcoming You to Grow in Jesus,

Pastor Don