Taxes, Fees and Earthly Hassles
Being Christians does not free us from the day-to-day hassles of living on this earth. Our challenge is to not be buried by paperwork, chores, notices, rules and regulations. Often, we get frustrated with bureaucracies and the level of complexity that taxes, fines and fees add to our lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have a year with no taxes? But then, aren’t we blessed by interstate highways, potable water, hot showers, trash pick-up?
Jesus and his disciples lived in a complicated world too. Twice we see Jesus addressing the issue of taxes with his disciples: first the Temple Tax in Matthew 17 and later the taxes to Caesar in Matthew 22.
Jesus’ disciples have heard enough from him to know that he operates in a different realm. They begin to wonder if they even need to fuss with all this tax stuff. After all, he is going to be the great king very soon—right?
But Jesus tells them to pay up and carry on and even adds a miracle with the coin appearing in the mouth of a fish. He also answers the pharisees with a wise phrase, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (22:21).
Jesus’ treatment of living a spiritual life in a secular world makes us think. Even then, Jesus did not abolish the current order of things. He taught his followers to continue to live in a broken world and yet not to be overcome by it. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
Sometimes we see injustice: wrongly assessed fines, traffic stops that make us grit our teeth, taxes that are too high. We have to choose when to fight and when to pay. What Jesus seems to say is, “Carry on. Live here for now, pay what you must, and then focus on me.”