Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rendering Unto Caesar


There is a place between material and abstract, between physical and spiritual, between visible and invisible. I think an apt metaphor would be to say that I am right now stuck on the beach for the beach, the sand is that place between the land that we live on, the everyday place of dirt, stone, asphalt, concrete and the ocean, vast, boundless, unfathomable and mysterious. For anybody who has ever been here undoubtedly I do not have to explain. For those that have not it is likely that no explanation will be good enough to convey the reality and when I say ‘reality’ I use that term in its vaguest meaning because this place can only be described as un-formed.

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to stand on the precipice of a mountain in Colorado. The view was not down, as on the edge of high cliff but rather spread out before me as far as the eye could see, and beyond more mountains. It was awe-inspiring and I now know why the mountains hold that same attraction for many people as being at the ocean holds for me. It is as if you are standing at the edge of eternity, gaining a glimpse of forever. Moses on the brink of the promised land.

But then you have to leave. Go back down the mountain or shake the sand off your feet get in your car and go home. Back to work, back to the kids, back to the bills and grocery store, cutting the lawn, washing the car, reading the newspaper, cooking dinner for your family.

Rendering unto Caesar.

With this glimpse that I have gotten it would be so easy to simply let go of Caesar and allow myself to float into God. But that of course would be problematic when Caesar comes knocking on my door looking for the rent check… and he will come knocking.

Rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and rendering unto God the things that are God’s means living in two worlds. In this life I cannot chose to stay only in God’s world – much as I’d like to. Unfortunately if I want those opportunities to visit God’s world I have to render unto Caesar daily.

The pull of God is so strong, a force that draws me to something that I cannot see, that I cannot define, a place in which I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. But even in all that ambiguity it actually hurts to have to turn back to Caesar. It is as if I have to say to God “I’d rather do anything than leave here but I have to go now. If I want to come back here again there are things that need doing and I have to take care of my business.”

Like being in the arms of your beloved and having to tear yourself away to go back to the ‘real’ world.

Rendering unto Caesar.