The religious leaders came to Jesus, hoping to trip him up (Mark 12:13-17). Tiberius Caesar, a brooding paranoid who regularly executed those who challenged him, was ruler of the most powerful nation in the world, and was considered by many to be “what’s wrong with this country.” So the leaders asked Jesus, “To whom should we pay taxes?” implying that it would be wrong to support such a government. Indeed, democracy collapsed under the reign of the Caesars, and immorality reached the level of madness—the number one form of entertainment was gladiatorial battles to the death, accompanied by the public rape, torture, and murder of foreigners and other undesirables.
Jesus pointed to the tribute coin and asked, “Whose image is this?” “Caesar’s,” they spat back. “Well, then,” Jesus replied, “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Was he saying, “Hey, the Romans are good guys, so do what they tell you to do”? Hardly. He was saying, “You can’t get the freedom you’re looking for from any human government. You can only get it from God.”
My country, arguably the most powerful nation in the world, is in the midst of a virulent election. Both candidates are believed by millions to be “what’s wrong with this country.” They may or may not be. But whoever’s image ends up imprinted in the media, it’s God’s image that is imprinted on us, and real freedom can only be found in him. So vote for the best human you can. But render to God what is God’s.
And if thou wilt be truly free, let God alone rule over thee.