In Matthew 22:15-22, we get stuck on the words “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s” we forget the whole thing’s a trap.
The point isn’t what we give to the Emperor, but that we see each other
Proper 24A | Matthew 22:15-22
I don’t know if any of you have been outside in…you know…the last few years…but there are people really concerned with the mixing of church and state. Have you heard that? Or when people start talking about what is or is not on a Starbucks cup I usually ask “is it pretty?”
Whether we’re talking about Christmas wishes or whether or not a human being can get treatment at a hospital, there are some genuine questions we have about the role of faith in our society, not just our government. We are literally arguing about who we are to one another.
Most of us know this morning’s gospel story as the Jesus-tells-us-to-pay-taxes-gospel. For a lot of people, this is the question of the hour and the perfect example of how to be a Christian in the world.
That perfect example, of course, reveals much about how we see the character of God, of Jesus, and the Kin-dom.
And the most popular reading is the one it sounds like when we focus on Jesus’s words
Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s
and we go Yeah, right on. Keep it separate and be chill.
And that sounds right, doesn’t it? But it also seems…odd. It seems strangely out-of-place here. That reading, I mean, given all that we’ve just been reading in Matthew.
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