NF – Mansion, and the Meaninglessness of Chasing After Wind

It’s interesting what was once considered a mansion. This photo, for me, is a reminder of the ills of the exponentially growing expectation of the American dream. What was once thought a mansion, now looks almost average, and yet depression, chemical dependence (legal and illegal), and violent crime in our nation is not improving. It’s an image of the soul decay of serving at the foot of the idol of earthly riches. NF, the first Christian rapper to be signed by a major record label, Capitol Records, released this album cover today for his début album dropping March 31. You can see the video for the single here.

Great work by NF, presenting the collision of human reality and biblical truth in an unexpected medium.  I have been both of the people represented in the video, at both ends of the spectrum, and found depression at both ends. The answer only came when God opened my eyes to see that no matter what I had, or what I did, I was never going to have peace until I understood my purpose. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” He is what our souls are longing for. Until we understand that, we will continue be people who heap up possessions to fill our emptiness, or be those who are unsatisfied with life or feel insufficient because we can not keep up with the perceived success of others. Both paths lead to the same place.

Ecclesiastes 1:14  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Matthew 6:19-22  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

 

Render Unto God What is God’s!

No this post is not about tithing!  Fear not!  And for those of you who know this passage, I’m not going to talk about paying taxes either!   Sweet relief, right?   This is an examination of Christ’s response to the questioning by the Pharisees who attempt to trap him in Matthew 22.  They asked Him:

“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

It’s important to understand that both Roman soldiers and Jews were present, and the Roman Tax on the Jews was a highly controversial issue at this time.  The Romans were taxing the Jews as much as 80% of their household income.  People were being arrested, impoverished, and dying as a result of this tax.  If Jesus were to instruct that the Jews should not pay taxes, the Roman Soldiers would have had cause to arrest Him.  At the same time, the Jews were highly vexed by this situation, and these taxes were being used to fund the army that was enforcing the oppressive rule of Rome over them.  If Christ simply instructed the Jews to pay the Roman tax, they would have turned on Him.

 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.[c]

20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”

It has been discussed ad nauseum that Christ says here that we should pay our taxes.  Given.  What I would like to draw your attention to is the coin.  Specifically the image on the coin and its implication.  The coin was created by Caesar, and his image is what gave the coin its value.  By the image and inscription on the coin it was not simply a piece of metal, but was made and marked specifically in such a way that all would see that this coin had a specific purpose, a designated value, and belonged to the man whose image it beared.  Christ was not terribly concerned with the money, or with Caesar’s desire to take the money back from the Jews.  (Christ of course knows that The Father provides what is necessary for His children.)  But…what is more important is what Christ said next.

 “…render unto God the things that are God’s.”

What is he talking about here?  What are the “things that are God’s?”  Brothers and sisters, you and I were created in the image of God.  We bear His image.  He has placed his inscription on us.  “Imago Dei” – in Latin, translated – “Image of God.”

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).

If the image of Caesar on a denarius gives it such value, how much more value then does the bearing of God’s image place upon His children?  This is what Christ is communicating here.  The tax, and money in general, are not important.  What is important is that you are God’s.  You were created by Him, and you are valuable to Him.  He expects you to return to Him.  “Render unto God what is God’s.”