29th Sun C
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
A number of years ago the British journal The Economist in one of their celebrated reviews assessed the different voting systems used in countries around the world. It recognised that no system is perfect, nor can possibly be. Comparing strengths and weaknesses, checks and balances, it assessed the Australian Federal system of voting to be the best in the world. Some years later, when there was discussion taking place about ‘reforming’ the Senate, I described The Economist’s assessment with my brother. He said that people wouldn’t listen to it - as it took more than 45 seconds to describe. We have an inbuilt dislike of complexity. It was this inbuilt dislike that the Pharisees used when they attacked Jesus.
The problem with this is: only God is simple, everything else in life is complex. The Pharisees’ question had reduced the issue of paying tax to ‘either/or’. Jesus expanded the issue to recognising the demands of God and Caesar…and then didn’t spell out what they should do! They were to respect the rights of the both parties and then work out how to act appropriately. This is timely advice to us who live within a democracy, even the celebrated Australian democracy. The issues that we have to decide upon are of their very nature complex. What type of tax should we pay? Should we go to war just because our allies do? What are the rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers? Does the desire for royalties from mines and gas works justify the threat to agricultural land? These are complex issues and as Christians we have a moral obligation to keep reminding people that they are. We cannot allow public debate to be a strident ‘either/or’. Following the example of Jesus, we must try to make public conversation courteous and complex.