Getting beyond “this” or “that”



Mark 12:13 Then they sent to him some Pharisees and some Herodians to trap him in what he said. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not? 15 Should we pay them, or should we not?” But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.” 16 And they brought one. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

The people sent to trap Jesus were people who had already rejected Jesus. They began with simple flattery in v.14 then try to set Jesus up with a trick question. Do we pay Caesar or not? The options implicitly offered to Jesus as responses would be “yes” or “no”. Either one would potentially put Jesus in jeopardy. Jesus chose a third option. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

The thing about viewing life through the lenses of faith and scripture is that we will often discover more options than the simplistic choices the world has to offer. Are you for this or against it? Are you right or left? Are you a believer or not? The Lord gives us non-traditional options.

I think about Moses standing on the banks of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army in pursuit. Do we fight or do we drown ourselves in the sea? Neither. God said, “Moses, raise the staff I gave to you.” And the sea parted so the people could cross the sea on dry ground.

I think about Joshua leading the people to occupy the Promised Land. Faced with the formidable city of Jericho they no doubt asked, “Do we try a suicide mission to take the city by force or do we go around it?” Neither. God directed them to march around the city seven times then blow their horns. The walls came down.

This morning I’m wondering where the world around me is trying to get me to do this or that, accept either/or as the only possibilities. How might the lenses of faith and scripture open other possibilities which may not be obvious? How does God view the situation? What biblical stories come to mind in relationship to my issue?

Gracious God, the bible tells us that your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Give us grace to see the world as you see it. Open our minds to possibilities which may not be obvious, but which honor you and your Kingdom. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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