Merry Christmas!

Luke 2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And to God

After writing yesterday’s post about Mark 12:13-17, I became curious whether all Bible translators choose to head this as a story about taxes or giving oneself to God. This is what I found:

New International Version Paying Taxes to Caesar
New American Standard Bible Jesus Answers the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes
The Message Paying Taxes to Caesar
Amplified Bible No heading
New Living Translation Taxes for Caesar
King James Version No heading
English Standard Version Paying Taxes to Caesar
Contemporary English Version Paying Taxes
New King James Version The Pharisees: Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar?
21st Century King James Version No heading
American Standard Version No heading
Young’s Literal Translation No heading
Darby Translation No heading
New Life Version They Try To Trap Jesus
Holman Christian Standard Bible God and Caesar
New International Reader’s Version Is It Right to Pay Taxes to Caesar?
Wycliffe New Testament No heading
Worldwide English (New Testament) No heading
New International Version – UK Paying Taxes to Caesar

Of the versions surveyed, only the Holman Christian Standard Bible mentioned both Caesar and God. Most of the headings mentions paying taxes; one mentions Jesus answering questions and another the attempt to trap Jesus.

Do the Bible translators miss the point of Jesus’ statement? I would hope not. Imagine trying to find this story by reading the headings if the heading said, “Give to God what is His.”

Also, people tend to remember the story, not the answer. That’s why Jesus told so many parables. We remember the stories. It may take some time for the meaning to sink in.

I like your Christ…

What’s in a name?

What do you think when you hear the name “Jesus”? Unfortunately, your reaction likely depends on whether you know Christ or just Christians.

Pop quiz: Christians are:

  • Confused
  • Inspired
  • Judgmental
  • Loving
  • Christlike

If you don’t check the last item, you’re in good company.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. –Mahatma Gandhi (maybe…)

Jesus intended for Christians to have a very different reputation.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:35 (New International Version)

How can Christians change their reputation?

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. —1 John 3:16-18 (New International Version)

How did Jesus fight the culture war?

I’m pretty good at seeing connections. I took the Graduate Record Examination twice, and I remember questions like this:

“Dog is to peanut butter, as cat is to _______________.”
a. Apple butter b. Martha Stewart c. The International Space Station.

I won’t tell you what the answer is, but I got it right.

Thus starts Michael Spencer’s commentary at internetmonk.com, “Looking For The Jesus Connection: How did Jesus Fight the ‘Culture War’?” Michael clearly is smarter than I. Not only does he see the connection in the opening question, but he can explain the connections between Jesus and the confirmation of circuit court judges.

Jesus is Lord. He teaches us to live by Biblical values. Christians, i.e. “people of faith,” want to apply those Biblical values to public life, especially here in America where we have the right to do so. Judges affect our public lives by their many rulings on important issues, especially issues related to life and marriage. Republicans have nominated judges that are people of faith, and their rulings won’t go against what people of faith know is right and good. But the Democrats are against people of faith, and are using filibusters and other tactics to stop those Republican nominated judges from being approved. They are not just stalling the process; they are actively disqualifying these judges over issues of religious faith, and that’s wrong. Therefore, Jesus is for Republican judges being approved, and Jesus is against the Democratic filibuster against people of faith.

I suspect I don’t have to tell you that Michael is writing with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. But I will, because I’m only excerpting his commentary and I don’t want you to misunderstand. After all, those “connections” sound like the statements of some people I know.

Michael concludes his commentary with the statement:

I can’t make the connection between the ministry of Jesus and the political methods and agendas of partisan conservatives. Maybe because the connection isn’t there.

So how does Michael get from A to B, from start to end? I’m not going to tell you because I want you to go read the whole commentary. It’s required reading for those who think we’re not in a culture war and for those who do, but may not be using the right tactics.

Hat tip: Crossroads.