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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"The Things That Are God's"

The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere
and the circumference is nowhere.  (Empedocles)

Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away (Matthew 22:19-22).

This little story about a coin and taxes is not really about taxes.  As the Pharisees try to trap Jesus into saying something either treasonous or blasphemous, Jesus takes the opportunity to turn the tables and remind them of some things they already know.   Any good Jew of Jesus' day, not to mention a Pharisee, would know the multitude of teaching in scripture that makes it pretty clear who owns what between the emperor (whether Pharaoh or Ceaasar) and God.   For starters how about the primal creed of Israel, the Shema:  "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." (Deuteronomy 6:4).   When God is One, how can there be anything else?  Remembering this, all they can do walk away in silence.

We too are reminded that everything is God (or better in God), even, and especially, those things claimed in the illusion of ownership by nations or individuals.  We can divide creation and it's resources all we want, but regardless of how we do it, the truth remains: "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;"   (Psalm 24:1)

What would our life look like if we started treating everything as if it were in God?    Would we think differently about our natural resources and use them more wisely, seeing them as a gift rather than a right or entitlement?   How would our relationships change if we began to recognize the presence of God in every other human?  Could we even begin to let go of the concept of ownership through generous sharing of all things including our own lives?  

Let's go into the world today and look for God, or better yet, prepare ourselves to be surprised at where God finds us and we discover ourselves in God.

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