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Dear COA Family,

How can we succeed in living well in the world? This question is especially pertinent as we look
forward to the second half of 2024 knowing that while the world faces many challenges, God
has called us to serve him faithfully in his kingdom.

In Luke 20, Jesus was accosted by spies sent from the chief priest and teachers of the law. Their
purpose was to trap him into saying something seditious against the Roman rulers so that they could
then hand him over to be tried. However, Jesus wisely avoided their trap by replying:
Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v25).

Today, Christian teachers and thinkers have used this phrase to identify and distinguish the two
kingdoms that we are all living in simultaneously: the earthly and the heavenly kingdom. God has
instituted kings and governments to rule in human society, while his kingdom continues to thrive and
expand amidst his people. We are therefore to give our allegiance to both.

H.B. Clark writes, “It is a doctrine of both Mosaic and Christian law that governments are divinely
ordained and derive their powers from God. In the Old Testament it is asserted that ‘power
belongeth unto God,’ (Psalms 62:11) that God ‘removeth kings and setteth up kings,’ (Daniel 2:21)
and that ‘the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomever He will’ (Daniel
4:32). Similarly, in the New Testament, it is stated that ‘…there is no power but of God, the powers
that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1).”

At the same time, we are aware of the reality of another kingdom that is higher and supersedes the
earthly one – the kingdom of God. Jesus, when threatened with the direst punishment known to
man, replied to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my
servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom
is not from the world” (John 18:36). In other words, he chose to live according to the purpose and
mandate of the heavenly kingdom rather than succumb to the earthly one.

Coming back to the original question: how then can we truly succeed in our living? I believe it is to
rightly and wisely obey the laws of both God and society and to contribute to the flourishing of

Are there any government laws that you are not abiding by or any good that you are withholding even
knowing that you wouldn’t be caught? Refrain from that. The tax that the Jews had to pay to the
Roman authorities was a deeply unpopular one and yet Jesus commanded that it be given.

New Testament scholar Willard Swartley writes: “The tax denoted in the text was a specific tax… It
was a poll tax, a tax instituted in A.D. 6. A census taken at that time (cf. Lk. 2:2) to determine the
resources of the Jews provoked the wrath of the country. Judas of Galilee led a revolt (Acts 5:37),
which was suppressed only with some difficulty. Many scholars date the origin of the Zealot party
and movement to this incident.”

At the same time, how have you been responding to God’s call on your life to live out his commands
and purposes? How have you been responding in love to others in your life? How have you stewarded
the resources that God has granted to you?

Jesus tells us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you
as well” (Matthew 6:33).

May the Lord grant you wisdom and grace to navigate both the earthly and heavenly kingdom to thrive
in your life!

God Bless,
Revd Ian