Jesus said to them, "Give to the emperor the things that are emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were utterly amazed at him. Mark 12:17
Some religious leaders in religious Jerusalem sought to trap Jesus with a question about taxation. They reasoned within themselves that his answer might show disrespect for Roman authority or irreverence for the divine law of God. His response wasn't a balancing act. To give God the "things that are God's" means a subordination of all lesser loyalties to the worship and service of a sovereign God. In the earthly scheme of law and order, there must be some shared or individual authority. Roman roads, Roman law, Roman currency - these required Roman taxes. As Christians who live in a representative republic, we are called upon to pay our taxes. Moreover, we are responsible, as believers in a just and merciful God, to promote a way of government at all levels that is fair and beneficial to all citizens.
Regardless of where you position yourself on the political spectrum, you are responsible to be involved in civic work. There is a place where you can serve: voter, party worker, candidate, elected official. You can be constructive in your criticism of laws and policies. Under the guidance of God you can help to shape our common life so there is more justice, more kindness, more mercy.
The Rev. James Mussman is pastor at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Tiffin.