Tag Archives: Tax

The Political Party of Jesus

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When Jesus called his apostles, he called a hodgepodge of people to come together to follow him. Have you ever thought about the variety of these men?

Jesus didn’t choose them haphazardly. He stayed up all night praying before he chose twelve out of the multitudes that were following him. These were the men he would mentor more closely – the men who would turn the world upside down.

Look at the makeup of this band of brothers. Several were fishermen. In fact, the three who were closest to Jesus – Peter James and John – were fishermen and not brilliant scholars. Judas was a traitor to Jesus. Thomas was the one remembered by his doubt.

The two in this grouping that fascinate me most considering the close company they kept for three years were Matthew and Simon.

Matthew was a tax collector. According to the Jews this would label him a traitor to their nation. He was working for the Roman government which was oppressive to the Jewish people. Most Jews hated tax collectors and grouped them with prostitutes and other “sinners”.

Simon was noted as being a zealot. A zealot was one who was a nationalist that wanted to overthrow the roman government. He wanted to restore Israel back to the nation he felt it needed to be without the oppression of another ruling nation. Barabbas was a zealot and was part of an uprising that led to death. Simon was in the same party as Barabbas.

So what was Jesus’ point in all this? I think Jesus was trying to show the people that the kingdom of God wasn’t about political parties. In fact, Jesus’ message was political but not in the ways we think of it.

When we think of politics, we think of Republican and Democrat and maybe Libertarian or Independent. We see the polarization of our nation around these party lines. We think of how our country should be run and who should run it. Matthew and Simon had opposing views of how the Jews should be governed. They were as polar opposite as you could get. Yet Jesus called them to work together for a kingdom that was not of this world.

The kingdom of Jesus is the reign of God in our lives. It is our choice to be governed by God only. The kingdom of God is not Democrat or Republican. It is not about all the things that divide our country. The kingdom is about love of God and love of one another. These are the two laws of the kingdom. When you meet the king you will be asked to account for how you fulfilled the two laws, not what your political party was.

So, if Jesus wasn’t about political parties, then can our churches be the same? We are called to treat others as Jesus did. He didn’t shun someone for being a particular political party. He didn’t ask them which government they stood for before He called them to follow Him. We are called to love others the same way. This is the kingdom of God. You are welcome here even if you are republican, democrat, libertarian, or independent. You are still called to follow Him.

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It is for Freedom Christ has set us Free

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We live in the greatest free country on the planet…well, almost. We do live in the greatest country on the planet, but it’s not necessarily free, and more people are taking notice every day.

One of the hottest discussion points around the country these days is the new verdict about what is referred to as “Obamacare”. The Supreme Court ruled that is was perfectly fine for them to impose this regulation on the general public. I don’t want to get into my preferences about this policy, but I do want to note that if this goes through it will be another example of the government taking away one of our freedoms.

We already have regulations wherever we turn. We have regulations on how we drive. We have regulations on how we raise our children. We have regulations on how we provide food for our family. We have regulations on how and what we teach our children.

We aren’t allowed to make any money without paying some of it to the government. Some of your money goes to helping poor people whether you like it or not. And now, if nothing changes, you will be forced to have health insurance whether you can afford it or not.

Some of these things frustrate me, and some of these things are great in order for us to have an orderly way of living. Granted, if certain rules weren’t in place there would be mass chaos. We need laws to maintain order in the country. However, this is not necessarily a “free” country.

Churches often have the same kinds of laws. Some churches dictate how you dress. Some churches dictate where you sit. You are instructed when to sit and when to stand. You are told what to believe about certain things, and in many churches you are ostracized if you believe differently than the masses. All of this makes me think of a verse in Galatians 5.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Are you free? You may say so, but then again you may be bound by traditions and regulations. Apparently we are called to be free.

What does this mean, then? Do we throw out everything for the sake of freedom? Not just yet.

This freedom comes in a certain way of perceiving the world around us. When you come to Christ, and you devote your life to him, then you are called to have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is in total love with God, and it follows the will of God wherever it goes.

Does that mean it is a slave to God? Not really. What are the laws of God? Love God and love your neighbor. That’s it – just two. Every other command we read in scripture is merely a commentary on how to do those two laws.

When you get to the point that you love God, then it is a result of that love that you begin loving your neighbor. When your mind comes into alignment with the mind of Christ, then what you want IS to obey those two laws. You are totally free, and you can quit whenever you want, but the more you love God and others the more you find that you really like this way of living. It is so much more fulfilling than a life of selfishness.

The laws (written and unwritten) within churches aren’t necessarily bad, but if they are given without being couched in the context of the two laws of God, then they are merely man made rules that do not serve the church well at all.

The best thing about being free in Christ is the concept of grace. We are free to do what we want. What we want is hopefully to fulfill the two laws of God in our lives. When we mess up we have grace. We may deserve to be punished for our transgression of the law of love, but because He loves us, He forgives us over and over again through the blood of Christ.

Most of the “laws” in churches are traditions. When we truly grasp the freedom in loving God and loving our neighbor, then we will be free to extend grace ourselves when others don’t match up to or behave in the way of our expectations.

This week is Independence week. Let us throw off the shackles of slavery to sin. Let us be truly free in Christ to live in the mind of Christ. Let us love unendingly, and let us extend the grace of God to others daily. This, truly, is much more fulfilling than the alternative.

If there is anything I can do for you, feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. You can also join the conversation about this as well as my other articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you as you live I the freedom found in Christ.

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Kingdom Living at Tax and Election Time

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Well, tax day has come and gone once again. Many of you got returns back for the taxes you have been paying all year. Others of you are now trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your taxes. In either case there are a couple of thoughts I’d like to share regarding how we think about our government and taxes and the like.

Praying for the Tax Man

People have always been disgruntled with the idea of having to pay taxes. Even back in the days of Jesus the tax man was considered an unrighteous sinner who was a traitor to the people. It was a pretty bold move when Jesus picked Matthew, a tax collector, as one of his disciples. The story of Zacchaeus flies in the face of popular culture as Jesus chooses to spend time with a tax collector who apparently had been swindling his people.

So paying taxes and dealing with the tax man were topics that were constantly on the mind of the people in the days of Jesus much as they are on our minds today.

One day, Jesus was asked whether or not the people should pay their taxes. Jesus was teaching about a new kingdom not of this world, and the people were looking for a loophole (or a way to trap Jesus in his words). They asked him if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus told them that whatever belongs to Caesar needs to be given to Caesar, but what belongs to God needs to be given to God. Unfortunately for them, Jesus was saying that they did indeed need to pay their taxes (and we do too).

Even though Jesus knew of another kingdom that he was establishing by his presence on the earth, he still had a different perspective about the earthly kingdoms than the people had.

Here in America, we elect the officials that govern us. From the mayor and city council all the way to the president, the people who are in office are chosen by the voters. Hence we feel a certain a right about how good or bad they are doing. We have strong opinions about our elected officials.

When we are disgruntled with them it is not uncommon for us to make that a prominent topic of conversation amongst us. Here at tax time and election time there is much discussion over how right or wrong (mostly wrong) we think the government is handling our monies and our lives.

Jesus never dishonored the governing authorities of the day. Even when he was being mistreated directly by them with his trial he spoke no words against them.

Romans 13 reminds us that the elected officials and even those who are hired aren’t put there by us in fact, but by God himself for our good. Sometimes it is hard to believe that fact, but we must then do as it says in 1 Timothy 2 – we must pray for them.

Are you praying for those who are in authority over you? Are you praying for those who may be elected this year? As we fill our minds with prayers for others we often find our own perspective changes.

This World is Not My Home

Jesus wasn’t killed because he was a good man who healed the sick and raised the dead. He was killed because of the religious and political implications of his message. He bucked the typical religious ideals of the day and also created an ideal of a new kingdom that his followers were to be citizens of.

This royally aggravated those who were addicted to their power and manipulation.

We are called to that same kingdom today. We are called to live in this world but not of this world. we need to pay our taxes and respect our authorities, but if our focus is only there then we miss out on the beauty and fruitfulness of being citizens of the kingdom of God.

The kingdom of God is the reign of God in our lives. Some people are still waiting for that kingdom to come at the end of days, but Jesus clearly said that the kingdom was going to begin in his generation and that it would be a kingdom of people, not a kingdom of places. There would be no castle and throne or land to measure out its borders. This kingdom would consist of God being on the throne in our lives. And we, as citizens, would then live accordingly.

As kingdom citizens we are called to act completely different from the world around us. Just this last week I overheard a person using some pretty colorful profanity in a conversation he was having. Then, when I got a chance to meet him he made sure to let me know he was a member of a particular Christian denomination. This is not how the kingdom operates.

Sure, we can have opinions of how things are going. We are called to be involved and help make this world a better place, but we are to have a different way of doing things. We are to detest evil wherever it rears it ugly head – even if it may be in our lives.

The kingdom of God is a way of life in which God reigns in our hearts and the law of the land is love – love God and love others. If we truly live this kingdom life we can change the world beginning with our own lives.

It’s tax season and election season, and in response to all that is going on around us we have an obligation to pay our taxes, respect those in authority over us, and pray for them. We also have an obligation as citizens of a kingdom not of this world to live differently as we love and interact with others in this world around us.

May you be different. May the change begin in your life. May the world be different because of you.

If you’d like to know more about this kingdom of God and how to become a citizen, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. God bless you and God bless America.


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