I wonder what Christ would have done if use of Donkeys were suddenly taxed in his time. Would they tie all the donkeys on Caesars state house gate and waving palms in protest, CAESAR MUST GO, LEAVE OUR DONKEYS ALONE!
Fuel levy increase in Kenya has not gone unnoticed by the heavens. For even when a strand of hair falls off or a bird plummets to the ground, God takes NOTE. If Christ is the answer of the world today then the church is Christ’s arm to demonstrate contemporary solution in the midst of crisis.
One day after the treasury increase of 16% on fuel levy, in the midst of a nation wallowing in bowels of corruption, my heart was moved by sight of tones of people awed at the increase in prices and unable to catch public and private transport to their homes. They sat along the road hoping a messianic solution to their transport dilemma would emerge.
The words of Christ echoed loud “Come to me ALL who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Disturbed by the scenario, a conviction from within me arose, as if Christ was faced by a similar dilemma . My attention was drawn to the passage in Matthew 17:24-27 where Christ and Peter move to Capernaum to worship in the temple and are intercepted on an Ecclesiastical Taxation. Ecclesiastical Taxation was demanded from any Jewish male visiting the temple once a year; this was to help meet temple expenses but was also a kind of penitence settlement, redemption for the soul contribution. Back to the Matthew passage:
- Temple Tax officials Demand from Peter to know if Christ was Tax Exempt
- Christ Inquires from Peter as to Who is Tax Exempt
- Christ Consults with Peter and Complies on Payment of Tax Levy
- Christ and Peter Declare their income source and pay their Tax Dues
Unfortunately societal decadence has not spared the church either; While this past Sunday many of the faithful Kenyans subscribed to their ecclesiastical duty so as to support religious outreaches in their community; while at the same time coming to terms with their civil obligation to comply with the new fuel tax demands by the state. Culprit ‘gospel’ peddlers were reaping off some innocent worshipers in the name of ‘tithing’ and selling of ‘fetishes’. Some were demanded to pay for their healing (giving healing seed fund); others were sold to handkerchiefs, oils, ‘holy’ waters from ‘holy’ land and other paraphernalia as symbols of the anointing power of God.
Christ and the Apostles were far from such religious gimmicks; I can imagine if the Apostle Peter subscribed to such ideology, he would have charged extremely expensive for any person to be touched by his shadow. Neither did Christ take a special offering to ‘exhume’ Lazarus alive from the grave. Tithing and Special collections if rightfully done were designated in the Old Testament and Early Church for three purposes; To care for the ministry workers, to care for the widows and orphans and to care for the strangers who lived among the community (today those are persons in spiritual poverty, who need God to make a difference in their lives)
Tithing was a form of ‘Temple Tax’. In our text above, Peter is confronted by the chief ushers as to whether Christ was obligated to pay the temple tax. From Jesus Response we can make the following observations:
- The men of God are partakers of the ministry, it is important that they too share their contribution to support the church, we lead by Example.
- Christ understood his rights as a son going into his father’s house he was exempt from any tax obligations but he complied so as to engage in PEACE! Lest we offend them…
- Christ commands Peter to go ‘fish’ for the tax. It is important to rightfully earn one’s funds. The Gift is as credible as the giver. Stolen Money from any source no matter what value does not convert into holy when given to church as an offering.
A few Chapters forward some mischievous persons in an attempt to stir a conflict between religion and the state; demand from Jesus whether it was right to subscribe to Civil Taxation. In Matthew 22:17-21:
- The theological elite (Pharisees) plot to Plunge Christ into a religio-political conflict.
- The theologians maliciously acknowledge Christ for his high spiritual persuasion verses human approval.
- The theologians seek the opinion of Christ as to Tax evasion from the government of the day.
- Christ demands to know as to whose print is on the currency in use
- Christ Approves submission to the government of the day by challenging his listeners to be Tax Compliant
In the second passage; the Apostle Peter remembering the acts of Christ, would latter document a classical commendation in 1 Peter 2: 13-17:
“Submit yourselves for the LORD’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
The two passages above raise some fundamental questions that every reader ought to navigate:
- Should Lead Ministers tithe to the church?
- Should Citizens pay taxes to an oppressive government?
- Can the Christian rise up against an oppressive system?
Well Christ sums it up!
Come to me all who are weary and heavy Laden and I will give your rest.
Let me hear you thoughts on this.
Photo by Jonathan Percy on Unsplash
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