Advent Devotional – Day 4

Dec. 2                               Luke 20 :19-36                                   Alan Meyers

Jesus says, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25) How do we tell the difference? What belongs to “the emperor” (i.e., the secular government) and what belongs to God? Well, we can sum up in one word what belongs to God: EVERYTHING! God is the Creator of all that is, and the Lord of all. But God has graciously “farmed out,” so to speak, certain responsibilities in running the creation to certain human beings. Parents, for example, have the responsibility of taking care of their children on God’s behalf. The emperor, or whoever is elected or appointed to govern, has responsibility in keeping order in human society, and, again, this is on God’s behalf, whether the emperor knows it or not!  And so children owe a certain amount of respect and obedience to their mothers and fathers, or to whoever stands in the place of a parent to them, “in the Lord” (Col. 3:20). And citizens owe a certain amount of respect and obedience to the government, such as paying taxes, always in the Lord (Rom. 13:1-7). As long as we give this proper respect and obedience we are really giving it to God. But this “in the Lord” implies that there are some things that belong only to God and do not belong to the government or even to our parents — worship, for example. Probably, in our society, most of the things “the emperor” will ask of us will be things we can rightly give. But if we are ever asked to give something the emperor has no right to ask, something that would violate God’s will for us, we will have to resist, however we can. This resistance could take many forms, such as working for a more just society, joining a protest, or voting, or maybe even running for office ourselves. It may be good for us to reflect today on how our good citizenship can be a way of serving our God — and also on what things belong only to God and not to the emperor or anyone else.

Lord, I thank you for those people you have given me to guide me in living my life. Help me, please, to follow their lead in the way you approve, and in doing that to serve you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.