30/4/11 2 Samuel 6; 1 Chronicles 13; Psalm 68; Matthew 17
S: Matthew 17:27 However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.
O: Jesus had just been challenged on whether they should pay the Temple Tax or not. Jesus asserted that as the citizens of God’s Kingdom, they didn’t have to pay the Temple Tax, but nonetheless, he didn’t want to needlessly offend people.
A: There are many things that we don’t have to do legalistically as Christians, but sometimes, it’s better for the sake of the Gospel to go ahead and comply.
As believers, we are often enjoined not to accommodate the world in terms of morality. However, there is another form of accommodating the world that is OK, and in fact, beneficial: when it is not a sin to do that thing and it’ll make the non-Christians have one less excuse for objection.
We need wisdom in these matters, for the situation is often not black-and-white. Here is an example from my own experience:
When I was an international student at an American state university, the international student division had organised an orientation exercise for new international students. They also allowed student organisations with some kind of emphasis on international students, e.g. the Malaysian Student Society, to set up booths.
I was involved in a Christian ministry to International students called International Friends, and we also applied to set up a booth. However, we were denied because we were a religious group.
I wanted to call one of the Christian legal defence groups to help us fight this, because I knew that it was unconstitutional for the state to do viewpoint discrimination like that.
However, the staff worker leaders of the group felt that since we had a good working relationship with the university administration and they allowed us to evangelise almost without restrictions on campus and book rooms, etc. and we had lots of opportunities outside of this event to reach out to the new international students, we should not press this issue and jeopardise that – we would have a better chance for witness on campus long-term.
In a slightly different scenario, it may well have been the right thing to fight the university legally, in order to not allow incremental gradual encroachment of the rights of Christians. That’s why this is a matter of wisdom and not black-and-white rules.
P: Father, give us wisdom when we are challenged by non-Christians. You know what the right thing to do in each situation, even when we are unclear. So please lead and guide us.