Caesar is busy making coins with his image to be rendered to back him. But Caesar himself is a coin bearing someone else’s image, God’s. (Gen 1.26-27.) That means Caesar is not his own. It also means Caesar owes a duty to render himself unto God. (Rom 12.1-2.) Herein is the radical subversiveness of the Christian message. We pay taxes to Caesar, not because he owns the money (which he doesn’t, even though he thinks he does). We pay taxes to Caesar because Jesus owns him (even though Caesar doesn’t think he does). This is why Paul and his companions were model citizens in one sense and radically subversive in another. They were wrongfully accused of violating the law. They were rightfully accused of turning the world upside down, preaching another king, Jesus. (Acts 17.6-7.) What does this mean for us? It means we are to be model citizens when we can do so consistent with the message that Christ owns the governing authorities and calls them to repentance and discipleship. It also means that we must speak out against idolatry by the governing authorities, and sometimes we must engage in civil disobedience. (Exo 1.15-21; Josh 2.3-6; 6.17; Mark 6.17-18; Act 5.28-29.)
Click the play button to listen to 'Rendering to God and Caesar' by Alan Burrow.