Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
When we see wicked people entering troubling times we should not fear – and neither should we gloat. We should simply take comfort in God, knowing that all will be well and that the fate of the wicked is not the fate we, God’s children, will face.
To whom are we to show our loyalty?
This question is no easier to answer today than it was in the time of Jesus. What do we do when the demands of the gospel and the demands of the government conflict? Although there are many people in the world who don’t have the option to choose their leadership, many countries support an elected government. The government in question could be local, state or national. We pay taxes and by doing so, often support behavior that we do not agree with and that does not agree with gospel values. However, if we do not pay what is due, then we are subject to fines and possibly imprisonment. How did Jesus answer the question of his day?
Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what is God’s. We may not be able to easily choose what our money supports, but we can help determine what our government supports. We have a responsibility to know what those running for office – on every level – stand for and support. We have a responsibility to let our elected leaders know what bills we want them to help pass, and those we want to see defeated. This also means that we have a duty to register to vote and then to vote on Election Day. Apathy enables special interest groups to have the last say, not the general public.
How is this rendering to God the things that are God’s? How is this showing our support of the poor and the vulnerable? Are we willing to take the time to check out which of the candidates are committed to our values? Are we willing to make sure that our vote will count on Election Day? If we are truly committed to social justice, then we will take the time to make sure that when we render to Caesar, we are also rendering to God. And we can continue to advocate for those who do not have the rights that so many of us take for granted.
In Genesis, the rite of circumcision was begun as part of God’s covenant with Abraham. It was a way of setting God’s people apart (though it was only performed on males). Today it is practiced by a wide variety of cultures, primarily for hygiene purposes. But during the time that Galatians was written, it was still being practiced as a religious rite among the Hebrews. It was an area of contention during early Christianity because Gentiles were not circumcised, and therefore seen as unworthy in the eyes of their Hebrew brothers. Paul clarifies in this scripture that circumcision means nothing when it comes to following Christ. It is our faith, coupled with acts of love, that makes us worthy–not some ritual which has nothing to do with our heart. Paul makes it clear in this passage that faith is the only thing that matters to Christ.
Lord, Sometimes I get caught up in the ritual of things. I know that I am guilty of trying to do all the right things the right way. I sometimes judge others harshly because they don’t pray the way that I pray or read their bible as often as I think they should or attend all the services that I do. Help me to stop judging people based on things that just don’t matter to You. Help me to see a person’s heart. Help me to exercise faith coupled with love so that I may be what You want me to be. Amen.