By Dr. James C. Denison
President, The Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
March 30, 2010
Topic: the week that changed the world
How do you sell tacos in a country where the cow is sacred? By replacing beef with chicken and posting a “tacopedia” so Mexican-food novices will know what they are getting and how to pronounce it. Today’s Wall Street Journal tells us that Taco Bell has opened its first store in India, and business is growing daily. Whether Indian waistlines follow suit remains to be seen.
Fast food is booming in such new markets at the same time Americans are becoming ever more health conscious. What if we focused on our souls as much as we think about our bodies? As we follow Jesus through this Holy Week, today we’ll consider our spiritual health.
Tuesday was one of the longest, harshest days in Jesus’ earthly life. His rejection of the moneychangers on Monday inflamed the authorities. As he returned to the Holy City, his enemies were waiting for him, their trap baited.
Their question seems simple: “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22:17). But their challenge forced Jesus to take a stand on the most incendiary controversy of their day. Rome required every subject of the Empire to pay the “poll tax,” using a coin whose inscription praised Caesar as divine. If Jesus supported such idolatry, the adoring crowds would morph into an ugly mob and reject him as their Messiah. If he rejected the tax, the Roman soldiers standing guard would arrest him instantly for sedition. Either way, his enemies would be rid of this Galilean and his threat to their authority.
Jesus’ answer stunned his opponents into silence: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 21). We are to be loyal to our country, but first we are to be loyal to our Lord. He deserves our obedience, worship, and gratitude.
What do you owe God today? Your next breath is his gift. He has forgiven every sin you’ve confessed to him. If Jesus is your Lord, he has given you eternal life by his grace. Every “good and perfect gift” comes from him (James 1:17).
Now your Father wants you to love him “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). Despite the conventional wisdom of our day, true Christianity is not private, subjective opinion but positive, transforming action.
So take some time on this Holy Tuesday for a spiritual examination. Would God say that you love him with all your “heart” (your will and decisions)? With all your “soul” (your personal worship)? With all your “mind” (your attitudes and thoughts)? With all your “strength” (your actions)? Would your colleagues, fellow students and friends say that you love them as much as you love yourself?
Marriage counselors tell couples who don’t feel that they love each other to “act into feelings.” Do what love does and you’ll feel what love feels. What could you do this morning to show that you love your Father and your neighbor?