But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Mark 12:15-17
The Jewish leaders who were always trying to show Jesus up before the people thought they had Him this time. They asked Him whether they should pay their taxes to the Roman occupation. If He said no, He and His followers would be in trouble with the Roman authorities; if He said yes, He would be condoning the worship of Caesar as God. So He countered with that now-famous quote, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.” It was a brilliant comeback that left His challengers dumbfounded.
But it also revealed something about the nature of world we live in and our relationship to it. We have the image of former Presidents stamped on our coins, which represents the allegiance we are expected to pay to our country through voting, paying our taxes, and respecting the laws of the land, but Jesus makes us aware of another kingdom even more important than the one we live in. It is the kingdom of God. And it is more important because, though we have Presidents’ images stamped on our coins, whose image is stamped on you and me? We are made in the image of God, so God has a claim on our lives. Uncle Sam may have a right to our money, but God has a right to our lives. He has called us to serve Him in His kingdom in the middle of our life and our place in this world. There is a supernatural aspect to all we do here.
You do not just have a job in this world, you represent the kingdom of God here. You do not merely attend PTA meetings, you bring the Kingdom of God there. We do not only entertain ourselves, we look for what the program, the show or the story is saying about the kingdom of God. What light can it shed, if any, on the truth we know in the Bible and vice versa?
We represent an invisible kingdom that is no less real than the one we occupy. We may take up a physical space in the country we live in, but we are part of a spiritual space that exists in another dimension yet still in this world.
It is a kingdom where we follow and represent what God is doing behind the scenes of history. Indeed, we are His agents to get His will done. When we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” who do you think is going to do that will if it isn’t us?
Wherever your boots are on the ground, there the kingdom of God is. Of course, the kingdom of God is everywhere, but we are agents of that kingdom and we bring God’s truth and God’s perspective wherever we go. This is the result of one great truth. Christ is in us and therefore we bring Him wherever we go.
Whatever our station — from CEOs to janitors; from superintendents to dishwasher — we look through the eyes Christ and with our ears attuned to His will, we will make a different kind of CEO, a different kind of janitor, a different kind of superintendent, a different kind of dishwasher.
We are here to help you find what that is, and we will provide resources that will help you find God’s will in your work and elsewhere. For instance, Peter Drucker can help you find out how the kingdom of God relates to your leadership as a CEO because that is what He speaks from. Brother Lawrence can help you find God’s will as a dishwasher because that’s what he speaks about.
And I would venture to guess that each one of you could speak to the issues of how the kingdom of God relates to what you do in the world. In fact … why don’t we do just that? Why don’t you develop a brief writing on how the kingdom of God informs what you do in the world and send it to me? The more examples we have of what this looks like, the more we all will be able to do this better.