What is Caesar's - by Greg Steggerda

A lot has changed since Friday. Friday morning I was in a contingency planning meeting where we noted we had a couple of weeks to plan for school closures. Two days later, we’re all grappling with what to do with our school-age kids. As Pastor Tim noted yesterday, some of us are blaming Trump and his team for mishandling the situation. Others, as an Alabama pastor wrote of his congregation yesterday, are ready to lick the floors at WalMart to prove this is a liberal plot to take control of our lives. Either way, too many of us see this as a political football rather than a shared public health crisis.
It’s so easy for our patriotism and faith to blend into a kind of religious nationalism, in part because Jesus himself pointed out the importance of government. We’re told in scripture to show due respect to civil authorities regardless of their faith, because our government is what provides order and enables us to live relatively free and structured lives. 
One of the more famous instances is in Matthew 22:17-21. The Pharisees confronted Jesus: 
“”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.’”
What is Caesar’s? The God-given authority to govern, to include passing the laws and collecting the taxes needed to provide for a civil society. What isn’t Caesar’s? The faith and trust and adoration that is due to God alone.
Jesus tells us to respect and obey our government but not to glorify it or put our hope in it. It’s foolish to expect the government to provide what only God can. No matter what executive orders a faithful president might sign or laws a Christian Congress might pass, it will not secure our eternity or legislate a single soul to salvation. 
So if you think President Trump is nailing this, support him as a man temporarily holding authority that isn’t rooted in himself, but don’t hold him up as any sort of religious hope. And if you’re sure the administration is making a hash of it all, be reassured that God’s at work regardless. 
We’re Americans privileged to live in this country not so that America will be great, but so that God’s kingdom can move forward. We should think a little bit about the fact that it’s moving forward faster in most other places on the globe. The greatness we’ve been promised by our civil authorities is not the future God has planned for us. That future looks a lot more like the thousand acts of kindness and support we’re seeing pop up spontaneously as we all try to get through this together.