Render Unto Caesar


Aloha, Caesar!

When my son was in fifth grade, he asked to be excused from class to use the restroom. He grabbed the hall pass, a Hawaiian lei, and happily scampered off to avoid the impending math lesson. The class sat quietly and turned toward the front of the room as the teacher demonstrated a problem on a Smart Board. When returning from his escape, he stood regally at the back of the class, the Hawaiian lei doubled carefully around his head. With his hand outstretched, he broke the silence.

“Hail, Caesar!”

The stunned class didn’t understand his dramatics. The girls chastised him and several of the kids mumbled, “Who’s Caesar?” The teacher swallowed her giggle before administering a swift punishment.

Sitting here on election night, I find myself in shock at how close the race for the White House is turning out to be. I guess I’ve blocked out all commentary on the subject over the past month (except the loud conversations I hear over cubicle walls at work) due to my disappointment in both presidential candidates. When I turned on the television tonight and saw all the red and blue states on the map, the first thing that popped into my mind was my son shouting, “Hail, Caesar!”

There is no doubt at least fifty percent, and in reality a whole lot more, of the country will be disappointed by the outcome of this election. So, to all of you disappointed people I will remind you of another Caesar story, as accounted in not one, but three, books of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). And whether you are Christian or not, this story says something significant about government and what’s ultimately important.

Then the Pharisees (Jewish dudes who were really good at following all the rules) went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.  They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.  Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Much of my work is funded by the government. I have payed and will continue to pay my taxes under Democrats and Republicans. Who knows? I may not even have a job under the next administration. But no matter. I’ll get by and pay taxes and slog along rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, whether I agree with how it is spent or not. So, if you must move to Canada, go ahead. But, remember, what really matters is the only thing you can control…that which God has given to you and that which you give to God…your life and the daily little choices you have control over.

I think I’ll come to work tomorrow with a Hawaiian lei wrapped around my head. Sigh.

Hail, Caesar, indeed!

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