A Penny For Your Thoughts
I am always amazed at the simplicity that is found in Christ. Man tries to make things so hard, but a convoluted mind is a sign of chaos. Jesus comes straight down the middle; His logic doesn't involve a bunch of twists and turns.
His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, yet a carnal mind thinks that "higher thoughts" equates to complex intellectual truths. Yet that is not the way that God works. What seems logical to man is insanity to God. There is simplicity in Him, and thereby He confounds the wise.
"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence." I Corinthians 1:25-29
By our own vernacular, our thoughts are only worth a penny: a penny for your thoughts? When is the last time a penny had any value? In this information age where knowledge (not necessarily truth) is easily accessible and ever-increasing, it is easy to get swept up in "knowing" something.
One of the characteristics of man in the last days is that he will be high-minded (II Timothy 3:4). Our goal is not to seek after the wisdom of men nor to even be considered wise in our own rights among men. Our goal must be to redeem the times we are in and seek God while He may be found so that we are conformed into His image and prepared for every good work.
Being conformed to His image, we have access to the mind of Christ as our carnal mind is crucified in Him.
"And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give?
But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him." Mark 12:14-17
Jesus knows that the root which perverts man's thinking processes is sin. In this case, it was demonstrated as hypocrisy. They flattered Jesus with words, but they were not sincere. "Oh Jesus, you are sooo smart! You speak the true words of God! Please give us your wisdom in this area." The Scriptures have much to say about flattery, and most of it is...well, not very flattering. Satan doesn't care how he does it, but he just wants to bind you. If he has to build you up to do that, he'll try that tactic. If he needs to tear you down, he will try that way.
These Pharisees attempted to catch Jesus in His words so that they could accuse him of inciting rebellion against Rome. Yet Jesus' answer was so simple that even a child could understand it. Give unto Ceasar that which belongs to Ceasar and give unto God the things that belong to God.
Jesus is not going to get caught up in the trappings of this life primarily because He is not subject to the authorities in this world. These things are temporary, and they are a sideshow to Him. He would not be moved away from His focus in fulfilling God's mission for His life. When it was time, He sent Peter to retrieve tribute money out of a fish's mouth. He knew that God would provide what is needed for Him to accomplish His work and He was not distracted worrying about how these things would be taken care of.
There is a lot going on in the financial and political landscapes of the world, and even more disruption is to come. Yet, if we are in Christ, then we too are not subject to these entities. I don't mean to imply that we should ignore civil or governmental authority. I am saying that we must understand that these are but a necessary evil. We cannot be wrapped up in them. We do what is necessary to live each day - by the grace of God - but not losing focus on our goal, who is Christ.
There are arguments ensuing in townhalls around the United States where people are debating Barack Obama's health care reform program. One man even told Senator Arlen Specter that God would judge him for what he and his colleagues are doing. There is a similar fervor erupting over the potential of "mandatory" Swine Flu vaccines which may be forced on many Americans. Throughout the country, there is an uproar over the erosion of "American rights" and a coming socialist agenda.
I cannot help but sit back in wonder as people are swept up into these debates. This whole world lies in wickedness. We are not here to redeem this world, and neither was Jesus. I cannot even see getting caught up in trying to fight for some patriotic or religious justice in this world. There will be none!
Our fight is not against flesh and blood but against powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places. In this war, we are not to get entangled in the affairs of this life. Does that mean we just roll over and let evil have its way? No. But we are to understand that our primary target is not what we see in this physical world. We are to give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar and give to God what belongs to God.
So then, what belongs to God? Is this talking about a tithe? The answer lies in Jesus' response. We determine what belongs to God by looking for what bears His image and superscription. What is this? It is us, the members of His Body.
We bear God's image:
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Romans 9:29
We bear God's superscription:
"Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." II Corinthians 3:3
Our lives are what we give to God. We are living sacrifices unto Him so that His will may be done through us. This is our "reasonable service"; it is what we owe God for the price paid in creating us and purchasing us through the life of His Son Jesus. It is the tribute that He deserves.
Those who do not bear the image and inscription of God in their hearts will be swept away by the things of this world. Faith in Him is an anchor for our souls, keeping us steady and secure even in the midst of a storm. Don't expel energy engaging in psuedo-wars around worldly matters that have nothing to do with God. Jesus never took His eyes off of His Father, and we must follow His example.
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:1-2