So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar's.” He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
Luke 19:21-25 (ESV)
The power and beauty of these words isn’t in Jesus telling us to pay our taxes. It is in His call to give to God what is God’s. We are made in God’s image, and we belong only to God. While we often want to force our faith into a box of our own design, we understand there is not one area of life that is exempt from God’s authority, and certainly no area of our lives outside His control.
The merchants of Lawrence, Kansas, like countless other cities and towns, put up thousands of Christmas lights, hoping to make the Christmas season about how much we will spend in the shops downtown. Christmas is good for business, they say. It is good for the town. But that “good” has a very limited scope and benefit.
Advent is different. It is about longing for the life of Jesus to be alive in us. It is about giving to God, fully and completely, all that we are and all that we hope to be. It is about welcoming the Messiah into every dark recess and every nook and cranny of our being so that Jesus might cleanse us and make us new. It is about giving “to God what is God’s.”
Dear Jesus, I pray that during the celebration of Your birthday that we would focus on the gift of You, and not focus on just the gifts under the tree. In Your name, I pray, Amen.