It was customary in the Roman world to declare that Caesar is Lord. To say and believe that Jesus is Lord went directly against the Roman Empire and what they stood for. People had to suffer the consequences for being outspoken. Courageous people died for their faith in Jesus back then, and it still happens today depending on the political situation of a country.
Courage is needed to stand up for what is right, but we also need wisdom to say the right things at the right time. There is no benefit in digging in our heels. This will increasingly isolate us from the rest of the world and further alienate us from people who question us. The goal is to find the language to express our thoughts in a way that people can relate to – just as Jesus did when He was questioned by His contemporaries.
To put Him on the spot, Jesus was asked in public to voice His opinion on paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar. Following is His reaction (Matthew 22:18-22):
“But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’ They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose inscription?’
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.’
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”
This is as straightforward as it gets. Jesus did not mince the words. He called the people asking Him this loaded question ‘hypocrites’; and at the same time His answer speaks to the hearts of all parties involved.
The goal is to never lose interest in other people’s opinions and to be transparent enough to be believable. Jesus had conversations with people from every walk of life. He was free from prejudice and preconceived notions. He spoke with the rich and the poor, the destitute and the well-to do, the religious experts, and the nobodies of His time. He addressed every person with tact and spoke in a language they all could understand.
It seems to be a human tendency to form clubs and create subcultures instead of stepping out to meet people where they are and keep the doors open for ongoing conversation. When opposing parties have stopped talking, the sound of silence can be deadly. On the other hand, keeping the dialogue going without defenses up and without trying to win the argument is a truly worthy objective.
Let’s ask God for empathy to be able to relate, for patience to hear people out and for plenty of wisdom to keep the communication flow up and running. This is exactly what Jesus did when He was on Earth – what better way to declare His lordship than by doing the same?