Summary: The sixth and final message in the series based on the six pillars of ‘Character Counts!’
(Slide 1) Today is our last Sunday to hear and think about the Six Pillars of Character counts with our kids present. And kids I am glad to have had you present these past six weeks and I also hope that you have learned some helpful things about these six character qualities.
Today our discussion is about citizenship. It is also Valentine’s Day when we are reminded about the value and importance of love. I think that there is a link with the two that I will attempt to make here in a few minutes.
Our text this morning is a very interesting one. It is another one of those moments in which the religious leaders attempt to trick Jesus into saying something that they can use against Him in order to arrest Him and show Him to be a trouble maker and not the Messiah.
It is Matthew 22:15-22:
“Then the Pharisees met together to think of a way to trap Jesus into saying something for which they could accuse him. They decided to send some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to ask him this question: “Teacher, we know how honest you are. You teach about the way of God regardless of the consequences. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?”
But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Whom are you trying to fool with your trick questions? Here, show me the Roman coin used for the tax.” When they handed him the coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God.” His reply amazed them, and they went away.”
Kids and teens, someone once said that the only thing they were certain of was death and taxes. Taxes are one of those issues that adults mutter and groan about just about forever but are one of the realities of life.
(Slide 2) And this story we just read is about two things: taxes and loyalty. Loyalty is a part of citizenship, a very vital part of citizenship.
How many here this morning are US citizens? I think all of us are and we are because… we were born here. But some of our family members, do you know, were not born in this country and may be not that long ago!
My father’s mother became a US citizen because she was born in America in the early 1890’s despite the fact that her mother and father were not born in the America. They had come to America, with my great-grandmother pregnant with my grandmother, from Wales which is part of the United Kingdom, or England as we commonly call it. My great-grandfather was a Welsh coal miner whose sight began to fail him and he returned to Wales for treatment and died there. My great-grandmother died here in America.
Citizenship is a big deal and to be a citizen is to be a responsible person.
(Slide 3) Here is what Character Counts! offers as a way to practice good citizenship. I am going to be commenting on some of these this morning: Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment
Now when Jesus came to earth, He was not concerned with politics and some people though He should be because by the time Jesus came to earth, Israel was no longer a free country. It was under Roman occupation which at that time was the greatest empire in the western world.
This did not make many people happy. They wanted their freedom from Rome and they were hoping that the Messiah would come and set up a new political kingdom and thus, a new nation of Israel. But it would not happen with Jesus.
Does anyone know what the phrase “they mix like oil and water” means? Oil and water separate after a time because they are two different forms of fluid.
Many people over the years have said that politics and religion do not mix and you should never discuss them. But, there are times when a person needs to think out loud about religion and politics because they both deal with our values and beliefs about what is fair, what is kind, what is the responsible thing to do, how one is respectful and able to disagree at the same time, and how to be trustworthy; all things we have thought about the past six weeks.