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What Jesus understood was that human beings bear God’s image, even as Roman coins bear the image of Caesar. We were created in God’s image and likeness, according to Genesis 1:26-27.
Then Jesus added something that reframed the whole issue: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (12:17). How intriguing! It’s as if Jesus were saying that the whole taxation issue wasn’t the main point. What people did with Caesar’s money didn’t matter nearly as much with what they did with that which belonged to God.
One of the reasons many of us struggle with forgiveness is that we misunderstand what it is . . . and what it is not. Yet, if we are going to follow Jesus’s teaching and forgive others so that God might forgive us, then we had better know what we should do . . . and not do.
Teamwork can be one of the greatest joys of work. Yet, working with others can also be the source of considerable pain. If you are part of a close-knit team, it is almost inevitable that you will, at some point, hurt others and be hurt by them. Sometimes the injury is intentional, when, for example, someone chooses to stab a colleague in the back. But, often, we wound others quite unintentionally. And the same is true for times when they injure us. Thus, if we are going to work effectively in our teams, and if we’re going to have healthy relationships with our colleagues, then we need to learn to forgive and receive forgiveness in the context of our work.
When we come across a verse like Mark 11:24, we can easily miss the point. Some Christians, who don’t pay attention to Jesus’s hyperbolic teaching style or broader biblical teaching on God’s nature, turn Mark 11:24 into a hard-and-fast rule for how to get what you want in prayer.
As I read Jeremiah 7 and Mark 11, I wonder if I sometimes hide in a “den of robbers.” Because I have a relationship with God through faith in Christ, do I let myself off the hook when it comes to living rightly?
Has God ever failed to live up to your expectations? If you’ve been a Christian for a while, I expect your answer is “Yes.” Now, to be sure, sometimes we are reticent to admit it. And some of our Christian communities do not give us the freedom to be honest about our relationship with God. If we have to put on a good show of faith, we won’t admit our true feelings about God. But, in fact, the people of God have often and throughout history experienced God as falling short of what they had expected.
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