A reading for Wednesday, December 3, 2014: Luke 20:19-26.
There are at least two ways to live. One is the way of Caesar. In the ancient world, the image of Caesar was on everything. It was on the gates of the city, and the seal at the colosseum. Every statue and piece of art was embossed with Caesar and of course money held his image. The message was clear. Everything you see belongs to Caesar, who you serve with your taxes and your allegiance.
The other way is the way of faith in God through Jesus Christ. For those that know the truth, the image of God is present everywhere and upon everything. The trees of the field, the grass that grows, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. Every human being bears the image of God in the world. This message is also clear. Everything you see belongs to God... every person, every institution, every nation, every resource... all of it belongs to God. We serve God with our gratitude and our worship.
Jesus rejects the sin and treachery of the scribes and chief priests in reminding them of the truth. Give back to Caesar the image of what Caesar claims belong to him. But, says Jesus, give to God all that belongs to God which is everything real. It's a clever way to expose that not even the scribes and the chief priests were operating out of gratitude and worship of God. They too were co-opted by the empire of Caesar and had adopted his ways of coercion and force.
There are at least two ways to live even today. One is Caesar representing the image of power and coercion, fear and submission. The other is faith in God, the mercy and grace offered to us by a loving God who blesses us with everything so that we might bless others in the same way.
Which way do you want to live?