Reflections: May 21, 2021
Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter
By Alfonso Espinosa
[Jesus] said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." (Luke 20:25)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Living as Christians in the world means that we live in the two kingdoms God has made for us. One kingdom is called the "Kingdom of the Right," otherwise known as the Church, and the other kingdom is called the "Kingdom of the Left" and refers to the state. The Church is also known as the kingdom of grace, while society (or whatever word we choose) is where earthly power lies. The Church emphasizes the Gospel, whereas the civil government must use laws to properly function. Both kingdoms are of God. God leads both kingdoms. We just need to remember that they serve entirely different functions and purposes.
But wait a minute. How can we say that God is in charge of both kingdoms when Jesus in Luke 20 says, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's"? It sounds like Jesus was saying that when it came to the Left, that Caesar was in charge. Well, the answer is that we have a classic "both-and" situation here. Caesar was indeed in charge of the state at the time, but only because Jesus let him be. In other words, Jesus has ultimate authority even in the realm of earthly power, but He has chosen to permit the governing authorities that He has established (Romans 13) to run the government. He's okay with that and doesn't worry about it, because God is the One who is always in control of the big picture. That's why Jesus said what He did when Pontius Pilate was interrogating Him. Pilate said to Jesus, "Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" Pilate spoke truth, but then Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:10b, 11a). And Jesus spoke truth.
So when you honor the governor or the president, and you should regardless of their shortcomings, you are really honoring Christ, the King of kings, the One who guards and keeps you in this world and into life everlasting. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Living God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity. Grant us the fullness of Your grace to lay hold of Your promises and live forever in Your presence; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our LORD, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA. He is also the author of two books: Faith That Sees Through the Culture and Faith That Engages the Culture.
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