Each weekday, to help us combat unemployment, Nick and I have been studying Mark. Last week a book arrived for me as an early anniversary present. It is The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scritpture: Mark (vol 2). I was super excited to crack the spine on this book. So basically, this commentary is the collected works of a ton of early christian fathers’ writings and preachings on just about every verse or story in the Bible.
Our passage for the day was Mark 12:13-17. This is a passage about tribute to Caesar. The pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” hoping to trap him in front of government officials. Jesus looked a coin and replied simply, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. Boom mike drop. Everyone was amazed.
Fast forward to Augustine of Hippo. He writes this, “We are God’s money. But we are like coins that have wandered away from the treasury. What was once stamped upon us has been worn down by our wanderings. The One who restamps his image upon us is the One who first formed us. He himself seeks his own coin, Caesar sought his coin. It is in this sense that he says, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” to Caesar his coins, to God your very selves.” (Tractates on John 40.9)
I’ve read this passage before and never read that. But its brilliant! We bear the image of God much like Caesar’s coins bear the image of Caesar. We represent God wherever we are spent. We may be in a foreign land or close to home, but we don’t belong to any government, king, or political structure, we belong to God.
This has been impactful for me in this election season. Its easy to get swept away into arguments and defense strategies for why the “other guy” is the wrong choice. I have seen name calling and generalizations made that aren’t fair– for either side of the spectrum. We need to remember that our image is not that of our politics. We belong to God and we should treat others as though they belong to God too. Indeed, they share the imago dei. We need to remember that our neighbors and our enemies are just people, trying their best to help our country. We are a powerful currency when we acknowledge our source and start acting like Jesus. Our lives should show the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Reflect: Have I demonstrated to my brothers and sisters the fruit of the Spirit this week? This month?