Summary: We all have something and this message looks at how we are supposed to treat the things we have
Well, today is the day. You ready? It’s April 30th the last day to get your taxes filed for 2016. Or maybe you’ve already filed. Maybe it depends on whether it you are getting money back or paying money out.
And taxes are a touchy subject for some folks, Politicians are elected or rejected often based on what they promise to do with our taxes. Oh, if we only had every tax cut that had been promised to us by the parties who got elected into power.
A little history here, Canadian Income Tax is a hundred years old this year. It was first instituted in 1917 to help pay for Canada’s efforts in the First World War. When the Canadian income tax act was first printed in 1917 it had six pages. Today it has 1412 pages. In 1917 the average Canadian paid $14.00, that’s in today’s dollars and the total collected represented 2.6 percent of total government revenue. Today the average Canadian will pay $4,120.00 in income tax and the total collected represents over half of the total government revenue.
It was Albert Einstein who said "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
And taxes have been a touchy subject as long as there have been taxes being paid, and that has been for quite a long time. How do you think the Egyptians built the pyramids, or the Mayans built their cities, or the Romans constructed the aqueducts and coliseums?
And as long as there have been folks collecting taxes there have been folks resenting having their taxes collected. Throughout the New Testament the term “Tax Collector” is often used in statements like Matthew 9:10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. Or Mark 2:16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” Nice. And when the religious leaders criticized Jesus one of the charges was Matthew 11:19 . . .‘He’s a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’
So here we are in week last of our Stewardship month. You can all breathe a sigh of relief. It’s almost over.
For those who are visiting with us or new to Cornerstone this is an annual event. Each April I take the opportunity to teach the theology of stewardship, which is a fancy way of saying we look at what the Bible says about money, what got, how we get it and what we do with it after we get it. Nice thing is that means I won’t ambush you about money throughout the year.
And we culminate Money Month with an event we call Step Up Cornerstone which happens today and we will be talking more about that later in the service.
Sometimes pastors choose to not speak about money in church, maybe in hopes that somehow their people will learn about it on their own, perhaps by osmosis. Or maybe it's because they feel that talking about money is too personal or too obtrusive. but Jesus talked a lot about money, he talked about the way people make it and what they do with it after they have it.
And because money is talked about in the scriptures, and because Jesus seemed to attach a great deal of importance to it, to the point of linking it to our eternities it is something that needs to be addressed. And we can’t just ignore it because it bothers some people and offends other people.
Seriously, what would happen if every preacher prepared his messages in an effort to not offend or bother anyone? You might as well open fortune cookies.
Apparently Jesus wasn’t afraid to express his opinion on a wide variety of topics that are deemed off limits today. People’s behaviour, people’s attitudes and people’s money.
Surprisingly though, especially if you are in the habit of watching the political situation in the States, Jesus never talked about politics. He never told people how to vote, never expressed a preference for a certain political party, never wore a campaign button or endorsed any particular candidate or political party. Just sayin’.
And this is how this particular Jesus story happened. Luke 20:20 Watching for their opportunity, the leaders sent spies pretending to be honest men. They tried to get Jesus to say something that could be reported to the Roman governor so he would arrest Jesus.
Who were these leaders? In the other gospels we are told they were the Pharisees and some unlikely allies. In the NLT we are told they were “supporters of Herod” the actual word used was “Herodians”.
So, on one side you have the Pharisees, the religious elite of the Jews and on the other side you have the Herodians who through their support of Herod, the puppet king of Palestine, are de-facto supporters of Rome. What is that old saying about “strange bed-fellows”?