When Kings Cooperate

Sometimes, having two bosses can work (right now, I have four), especially if these bosses are working towards complimentary goals and the competing time demands can be managed. In this kind of setup, it is mostly a matter of sorting out what each boss needs at any given time, and on a good day, many of our actions can be applied to meet multiple needs. (The lesson plan I prepare for one department can be used when I guess lecture at another, for example.)

Can this idea of keeping two bosses happy be applied to our view of government? Jesus seems to think so.

In Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus is challenged on the questions of taxes: is it right for good, God-fearing people to pay taxes? (Especially to a hated government like the Roman Empire.) Jesus' answer, "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's," is not a witty way to dodge a hard question. It explains a system of relationships that God has established: human governments operating on earth at the same time as God's government.

Clearly, not all government projects are "God's projects." Our human efforts in government, like all our efforts, often fall short, some tragically. But it is also just as clear, at least to me, that not all government projects are opposed to God. The question, then, will not usually be "which one do we serve," but how do we serve each one properly. By using the word "and," Jesus is telling us that both serving God and whatever human "king" is before us is possible.

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