Caesar’s rendering

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Matt 12:17

Don’t you wonder sometimes what people are thinking when they attribute a particular event to God?

There was a letter to the editor in the Toledo Blade that I hope was intended to be sarcastic. It dealt with the hospitalization of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson. If the Senator were unable to continue representing South Dakota, the governor would have to appoint a replacement. That appointment would likely come from the governor’s Republican Party. The senate would evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. That would effectively return control of the Senate to the Republicans with the Vice President breaking any tie votes. As a result, the letter writer attributed the illness and the potential turn of events to divine intervention.

I disagree.

Jesus categorized politics as a human rather than spiritual activity when he acknowledged a human obligation to Caesar and a spiritual obligation to God.

That’s not to say that we should give up on government. We still should strive to create a set of laws that pattern the divine. But to assume that you see God’s intention in any human event (political or otherwise) seems at best presumptuous. God’s will is that all of His children live in peace and grow closer to Him. That’s the pathway that is set before us, and not any particular political agenda.

When asked about what we should do to gain eternal life, Jesus said love God and love your neighbor as yourself. What is left for us is to choose every day whether or not to follow that plan. We have that choice because God loves us and is patiently waiting for all of us to find our way to Him. So why would a God who loves us that much, manipulate the human experience in such a way that it affects the very choices we are trying to make?

That’s not to say that all choices are neutral. The choices that bring us closer to God bless us. Those that take us further away hurt us. It’s a simple but effective system. God loves us unequivocally and we decide whether or not we are willing to accept that love.

That’s why God doesn’t particularly care about politics, sports, or beer. What he does care about is our individual progress in learning more about Him. That is after all how we discover the difference between the human and divine.

4 Responses to “Caesar’s rendering”

  1. ML says:

    “What he does care about is our individual progress in learning more about Him.”

    So how does one go about learning more about God? Certainly not through any empirical method:

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:


    Not sure in what context you are asking that question.

    If you believe in God, then Jesus had a pretty good answer when asked the same question. He said, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. When you dig into that in any degree, you discover that this is the work of a lifetime.

    If you don’t believe in God, then I think it depends on what you do believe in.

    BTW, there is an active area of study going on right now in the medical community on pretty much this same topic. Physicians are trying to determine if prayer has a positive effect on patients seeking medical treatment. Where they have been able to identify that effect, they are attempting to develop some explaination for it by using the standard double blind methods. Don’t know if these sorts of studies will end up being the “footprints in the flour” that you referenced, but it could be some of the empirical evidence some feel they need.

    There is also a book you might be interested in called The Science of God by Francis Collins. Collins was an atheist who through his scientific work came to believe that there has to be a God.


  3. ML says:

    Thanks for the info on the Collins book. I’ll check it out.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:


    You’re welcome.

    Don’t know if you watch the Colbert Report on the Comedy Channel, but Francis Collins was recently a guest. Admittedly there wasn’t much serious conversation about the book, but the author appears to be an interesting person with a good sense of humor.


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