It’s A Trap!
I also love Star Wars and am really looking forward to new movie coming out in December. Before Episode VII came out, I invited friends over and we watched all six movies in one night – not sure I’ll do that again, but it was good.
I’m reminded of a scene in Episode VI, The Return of the Jedi. The Rebels have found the location of the new death star, apparently still under construction, and decide to attack it before it is operational. And in this scene, we have a line from Admiral Ackbar – who is the large orange-brown alien that looks a bit like a large prawn – and this line in recent years has gone on to have a cult following of it’s own.
It’s a Trap! Those three words formed the basis of an internet meme that would produce many other images – it’s just what happens when the internet takes hold of something.
But what this would generally be used for is if on a discussion forum, someone post it to warn of a bait and switch, that is, where someone says this is a link to some particular thing, but in fact, it’s a link to something else. So this image would be posted to warn others.
And I’m thinking of this in connection to my relationship with the media. I love the media, and am quite happy to help them out with a comment where appropriate. However, I’m also very sceptical of the media. It might seem that we have a common aim – to comment on various stories. However, while my aim might be to share God’s love through my comments, the media’s aim is always to sell copies, and the more controversy the better. So there are certain topics that they’ll approach me on that I’ll immediately think: It’s a Trap!
For example, last year, all the ministers were approached to write a piece on what Christmas means for them. As Rusty was coming around to take our photos, he also thought to ask us some questions on another story he was writing, on Voluntary Euthanasia… It’s a Trap! Now, I was fairly certain what The Salvation Army’s official position was, but that is one issue that I can see biblical arguments on both sides, and I honestly don’t know what side I stand on. Any hesitation on my part could be misinterpreted and drummed up to create controversy. So instead, I decline to comment and direct them to our divisional PR rep. So whenever you see “Lt. Ben Clapton from the Salvation Army declined to comment” – that’s one of those Traps.
But the Pharisees knew that this was a dangerous question, with no correct answer, or so they thought. You see, if Jesus had said, “No, you shouldn’t pay the tax”, then the Romans would almost certainly have arrested him and taken him off much sooner than they did. However, if he said “Yes, you should pay the tax”, then he would have upset the crowds following him, who didn’t like having to pay the tax.
Instead, Jesus asks these religious people to show him the coin used for paying the tax. Seeing as they have the coin on them, it shows their hypocrisy – they carry around the coin, they break the religious law they hold so very dear. And after they confirm that it’s Caesar’s image on the coin, Jesus instructs them: “Well, if it’s got his image on it, then it must be his coin. Give it back to him.” and then he challenges the crowd with this line: “and to God the things that are God’s” – or in the context of giving to Caesar the thing that bear Caesar’s image, “Give to God the things that bear God’s image.”
Whose image do we bear?
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
So if they didn’t have anything that bore God’s image, what is Jesus talking about? What is Jesus saying they need to give to God?
Well, to answer that, we need to go back to Genesis 1:
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
All of humanity was created in the image of God. And since humanity was created in the image of God, it follows that each and every one of us is a bearer of God’s image. Therefore, if we bear God’s image, and Jesus said to give back to Caesar what bore his image, and give back to God what belonged to God, therefore, as bearers of God’s image, we need to give back our whole selves.
And that’s why the Pharisee’s disciples and the Herodians went away amazed and disappointed, because Jesus answered in a way that avoided their trap – he dismissed their concerns, told them what to do with the coin they so hypocritically held, and told the whole crowd to aim higher by devoting their whole bodies to God.
We bear the image of God
Each one of us bears the image of God. And Jesus tells us that we are to give our all back to God. We need to ensure that we allow God to use us to share God’s love for all people, who are after all also created in God’s image.
And that gives us hope. We’re not introducing anything foreign to them. We’re not introducing a fundamentally new concept. As someone who is created in God’s image, every person can recognise their common humanity, which comes from our creator, the one whose image we all bear. All we need to do is to help them see it.
Others will see the image of God in them
They see the image of God in themselves when we treat them as bearers of the image of God. When we show them the same love that God shows us. When we value them, as much as we value God in our lives. When we reflect the image of God in our lives, so that they can see the image of God in their own lives.
That’s what Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees. Stop worrying about these little things. Instead, focus on your whole being – God created all of you, so give all of you back to God. Reflect God in everything you do. Because when you value others, when you show them the God that is already in their life, whether they recognise it or not, you open up the possibility for them to be God bearers themselves.