Income Taxes provide that strange, brief season each year when I cringe at every dollar I’ve made and rejoice at every one I gave away.
By Verwüstung, Public domain, from Wikimedia Commons
I have income taxes and tax deductions to thank for that perspective. (I think.)
Without this strange, inverted view, we can look at our tax obligation as blood on the ground. Wasted money. Gone. Adiós dinero.
The Christians living in the first-century Roman provinces of Asia Minor were cataloged as “resident aliens.” Roman authorities considered them second-class citizens. That meant they had to pay taxes, but they couldn’t vote. They had to join the Roman army, but they couldn’t hold public office. They could work the land, but they could own none of it. Nice, huh?
What’s more, this inferior status, brought on by the Christians’ different religious beliefs, produced hostility, suspicion, and contempt within the communities in which they lived.
A Helpful Perspective
While the world viewed these Christians as resident oddballs, the Apostle Peter told them God saw them as aliens of another sort. Far from second-class, God saw them as of great worth—chosen, sanctified, and forgiven (1 Peter 1:1-6). They were great in the eyes of God, but not that great in the eyes of the world. Sounds pretty familiar.
Peter described a tension we still feel today. As citizens of heaven, we live as pilgrims on Earth. While we render our income taxes to Caesar, we also render our hearts to God (Mark 12:17). That way, even paying our taxes is an act of obedience to God (Romans 13:6-7). All of our money is God’s anyway.
We deal with the strange stuff of hostility and temptations as we cling to the assurance that the God who chose us loves us more than we can possibly imagine. Our peace comes from knowing that while the world sees us as strange, we are not strangers to God.
Our mailboxes may have our names on them, but our real home is somewhere else (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11).
And the good news? No income taxes in Heaven.
Is it tough to see yourself as an alien and a stranger in this world? Please leave your comment.