Do we follow the Kings of this world or the King of the Heavenly Kingdom? The Kings of this world represent power, fame, wealth and influence. The King of the heavenly kingdom eschewed all these things to the consternation of those that value them. Indeed, Christ became the willing victim. He emptied himself on the cross to the point of death and he was prepared to go through suffering to redeem his people. That is, all of us who believe in him.
And this is what it boils down to: whether we truly believe in Christ and are prepared to follow him or follow the kings of the world. It is not possible to say that we believe and then proceed to pick and choose from the Bible what we are comfortable with and to reject those parts of the Bible that conflict with our lifestyle. To truly believe is not easy to do. It means relying upon God rather than ourselves. It means letting go of what we possess. We find this very difficult, as after all no one gave us our possessions. What we have we earned from the sweat of our own brow and to give it away is difficult. Yet, let us listen to the words Saint Basil:
“The harshest form of covetousness is not even to give things perishable to those who need them. “But whom do I treat unjustly,” you say, “by keeping what is my own?” Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? Did you not fall naked from the womb? Will you not go back naked to the earth? Where is your present property from? If you think that it came to you by itself, you don’t believe in God, you don’t acknowledge the creator and you are not thankful to Him who gave it to you. But if you agree and confess that you have it from God, tell us the reason why He gave it to you.
Is God unjust, dividing unequally the goods of this life? Why are you rich, while the other is poor? Isn’t it, if for no other reason, so that you can gain a reward for your kindness and faithful stewardship…
Who is the greedy person? It’s him, who doesn’t content himself with what he has. And who the thief? He who steals what belongs to others. And you think that you are not greedy, and that you do not rob others? What had been granted to you so that you might care for others, you claim for yourself.
He who strips a man of his clothes is to be called a thief. Is not he who, when he is able, fails to clothe the naked, worthy of no other title? The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”
Let us accordingly be vigilant. Let us understand that if we are to say we have no king other than Caesar that what we are truly saying is that we follow the ways of this world. Everything we own is ours to do as we will. We look to the earthly kingdoms to protect us from the demands of the less fortunate. We believe in law and order and above all we believe in justice meted out to those who transgress our rights. In those circumstances how can we say that we have any king other than Caesar. If, however, God is our king then as Saint Basil pointed out we are obliged to act in a Christian manner to our fellow man. After all, Christ as the suffering servant was declared to us as being our king. Christ loved us to the point of death. Let us in return love him as best we can.