JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LAWS
Laws are made to control the behaviour of people in a society so that everyone can go about his or her work in safety and in peace. Without laws there would be lawlessness, disorderliness, chaos and destruction of life and property. Laws therefore bring about peace and harmony, happiness and the protection of life and property. The laws of our country are in the constitution; there are also rules of behaviour at home, at school and in the community.
The Israelites had their own laws, which they received from God to govern their relationship with Him and with one another. The laws, which define their relationship with one another, are the: Civil laws. Examples of the civil laws are: Mixing with sinners and outcasts; and payment of tribute to the Roman government. The laws, which tell them of their duties to God, are the: Religious laws. Examples of the religious laws are: The moral laws (e.g. the Ten Commandments); ceremonial laws like the washing of hands before eating; laws on religious duties such as payment of the temple tax, fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Jesus obeyed both the religious and civil laws of the Jews.
Jesus’ attitude towards the civil and religious laws: (Matthew 5:17-20): Jesus had a positive attitude towards the civil and religious laws. He said he had not come to destroy these laws but to fulfill them:
“Think not that I have come to destroy the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Jesus paid tax: (Matthew 22:15-22): One of the civic laws is the payment of tax. The Roman government, which ruled over the Jews at that time, had imposed tax on the Jews. The tax collected was used to provide them with all the social amenities that they needed. And, every citizen was expected to carry out this responsibility by paying the tax. Jesus emphasized this responsibility when the Pharisees asked him whether it was right to pay tax to the Roman government or not. In reply Jesus said:
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus’ answer means that the Jews should obey the civil law by continuing to pay tax to the Roman government. At the same time, they should not forget to obey the religious laws with respect to God.
Jesus obeys the religious laws: (Matthew 17:24-27) Every male Jew above the age of nineteen was required by the religious law to pay the Temple tax. This was the money used to maintain the Temple. Jesus complied with this religious law and paid the Temple tax of half shekel when the collectors of the Temple tax approached him. He told Peter to go to the sea and take the money from the mouth of the fish that he would catch and pay for the two of them, and Peter did.
Jesus Christ teaches that: ‘Love’ is the: ‘Supreme Law’
Love means care for or be devoted to somebody or something. Jesus taught us that the greatest and the most important law in this world is the law of love. The Supreme Law is: ‘Love’, because God’s love for man is the subject of the Ten Commandments.
Love and the Two Greatest Commandments: (Matthew 22:34-40 & Luke 10:27): The purpose of the Ten Commandments is to maintain good relationship between us and God and between us and our neighbours. We are able to achieve this purpose when we love God with all our heart, soul and mind and also love our neighbours as ourselves. This is the reason why, when a lawyer asked Jesus what the greatest commandment in the law was, he said:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.”
This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it:
“”You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
The lawyer asked Jesus:
“Who then is our neighbour?”
Jesus said our ‘neighbour’ is ‘anyone closest to us’ at any point in time.
So, in school, our teachers, workers and all other pupils are our neighbours.
Also, in our community, all the people living in the town are our neighbours.
On the road, all the people walking on the road are our neighbours.
All the law and the prophets depend on the above two commandments.
Love is the New Commandment: (John 13:34-35) Jesus told his disciples to love one another because love is the greatest and most Supreme Law. He called:”‘Love,’ a ‘New Commandment’. He said to his disciples:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
It is a new commandment because the whole nature of God is: ‘Love’. It is through ‘love’-that you are able to understand your whole relationship with God, and what He requires from you when there are people sitting or standing next to you (neighbour).
The qualities of: ‘love (Lk 2:51; I Cor. 13)
Since ‘Love’ is the Supreme Law and the New Commandment which Jesus has given us, we have to know ‘the qualities of love’ so that we can display it in our lives to all those who happen to come close to us. Saint Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, wrote about all the qualities of: ‘Love’:
- ‘Love is patient and kind;
- Love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.
- Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Love never ends’.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Therefore, the qualities of love are patience, kindness, humility and faithfulness.
Love is patient: Patience is the quality of being able to endure or bear suffering, toils, delay, anger or insult. It is the ability to calmly tolerate all difficulties that come your way in your relationship with your parents, teachers, friends and others in the society (neighbours) without showing annoyance or impatience.
When you try to be a good Christian by telling the truth or being obedient and respectful and your friends call you a coward and you refuse to be angry with them, or fight them, you are being patient.
When your parents delay in getting you what you want and you show understanding, you are being patient.
When you join the long queue at the bus stop and refuse to jump the queue, you are being patient.
When you refuse to cheat during Weekly Continuous Assessment Tests / Evaluation (examinations), but study hard, day after day, in order to pass your examinations, you are being patient.
When you are patient with yourself and those around you, then you have love for yourself and your fellow human beings.
The opposite of patience is impatience. When you are impatient you easily become angry or annoyed with your parents, teachers, friends and even with yourself. Nobody likes you when you are impatient. It means you have no love for others and for yourself. Therefore, you should avoid impatience and practice patience.
Love is Kind: Kindness is the quality of being able to think nice things about others and do good to them. It is the ability to ‘help’ others in need of our help whether they are your friends or not, and whether they are your neighbours or strangers.
When you help your parents with household chores and other assignments, you are being kind.
When you go to the aid of your friends, neighbours and strangers, because they are in need, you are being kind.
‘Kindness’ also means ‘sharing’ what you have with those who do not have.
When you share your food and other items with your friends and mates because they have none, you are being kind.
When you share your money with beggars and other handicapped people along the streets, you are being kind.
When you share your time with your community and provide free labour for either environmental cleaning or community project, you are being kind. You also show kindness when you ‘care’ for the welfare and happiness of others.
When you care for the sick and suffering and visit them in hospitals and wish them speedy recovery, you are being kind.
When you care for the handicapped and the motherless children and visit them and give them gifts, you are being kind.
When you sympathize with and comfort your friends and others who are in trouble or sorrow, you are being kind.
When you care for the success of your friends and mates and send them success cards when they are about to take their final examinations, you are being kind.
When you care for your parents and teachers and send them greeting cards at Christmas or Easter, you are being kind.
When you care for your friends who are far away and write letters to them often, you are being kind.
To be kind is also to be considerate. You are considerate when you think about how your actions will adversely affect those you love and those around you. When you are considerate and you refuse to say something or do something that will adversely affect the feelings of those you love and others around you, you are being kind.
The opposite of kindness is selfishness. You are selfish when you think only of your needs and refuse to help those who are in need of your help; you are selfish when you refuse to care for the welfare and happiness of others; you are selfish when you are inconsiderate and do not care whether your words and actions will negatively affect those who are dear to you and those around you. Nobody likes a selfish person because he or she has no love in him or her. Therefore, you should avoid being selfish by helping, sharing with, and caring for your friends and others as well as having consideration for them.
Love is Humble: ‘Humility’ is the quality of being modest, moderate and decent in whatever you think, feel, say and do. It is the ability to be submissive in your relationship with your parents, teachers, friends, mates and elders in the society.
When you are nice to your friends, mates, neighbours and strangers you have never seen before, you are being humble.
When you are respectful and obedient to school rules and to your parents, teachers and elders, you are being humble.
When you regard people from other tribes and countries as equals and refuse to discriminate against them on account of their tribe or nationality, you are being humble.
When you are bright in class and you are not boastful about it, or show off your knowledge to the annoyance of those who are not clever, you are being humble.
When you are decent in your mode of speech and manner of dressing, you are being humble.
To be humble, therefore, is to be well behaved.
The opposite of humility is pride, rudeness, arrogance and boastfulness. You are proud and arrogant when you refuse to be nice and pleasant to your friends, neighbours and strangers; you are rude when you are disrespectful and disobedient to authority; you are proud when you regard others as inferior because of their tribe, nationality or academic ability; you are boastful when vou show off your new dresses to the annoyance of friends who have not got new dresses; you are rude when you are not decent in your manner of speech and you use foul language. Nobody likes anybody who is proud, rude, arrogant and boastful because he or she has no love in him or her for anybody. You must avoid the opposite of humility and cultivate the qualities of modesty, moderation and decency.
Love is Faithful: Faithfulness is the quality of being loyal to God, Jesus Christ, your country, your parents, teachers, friends and to yourselves. It is the ability to be firm and constant in holding fast to things that are true, good and noble.
When you worship God only and abide by His Commandments as revealed to us through the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, you are being faithful.
When you accept Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Saviour and follow in his footsteps, you are being faithful.
When you work hard at your job and sacrifice your time and energy as true patriots and shun nepotism, tribalism, favouritism, bribery and corruption in order to make your country, strong, peaceful and united, you are being faithful. When you are obedient to your parents and teachers, you are being faithful.
When you make promises to your friends and keep to them, you are being faithful.
When, as married men and women, you refuse to indulge in adultery, you are being faithful to your wife or to your husband.
When you do your work well both at home and at school and behave as a good and disciplined student, you are being faithful.
The opposite of faithfulness is unfaithfulness and disloyalty. You are unfaithful when you worship other gods apart from God and do not obey His Commandments as revealed to you in the teachings of Jesus Christ. You are unfaithful when, as a Christian, you reject Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord
and Saviour. You are disloyal when you become unpatriotic by engaging in negative activities that will tarnish the good name of our country that makes her weak and disunited. You are unfaithful when you cheat during Weekly Continuous Assessment Class Tests / Evaluation and exams. You are unfaithful, when you are disrespectful and disobedient to your parents and teachers. You are unfaithful when you break your promises to your friends. You are unfaithful when you commit fornication and adultery. You are unfaithful when you refuse to do your work well at home and at school and behave as bad and undisciplined children.
Religious Guidance and Counselling God
God wants you to obey the law: It is not easy for anyone to use his or her will power to obey the civil and religious laws always, as Jesus Christ did. Only Jesus can help us to do that by giving us God’s spiritual power.
Therefore, you should all pray to Jesus to give you God’s spiritual power to obey the civil and religious laws always. Then you will all become obedient, disciplined and hardworking Christian citizens.
God wants you to show supreme love in your life: Our human love is limited in the sense that it is selfish and greedy. Therefore, it is very difficult to rely on our human love to show supreme love in our life all the time, like Jesus did. It is only Jesus who can give us God’s spiritual love to show supreme love in our life.
You should call upon Jesus to pour God’s spiritual love into your heart to show supreme love in your life. Then, you can display the qualities of love, which are patience, kindness, humility and faithfulness. You will have the best form of relationship with God Himself, Jesus Christ, your parents, teachers, friends and others. You will be at peace with God, Jesus Christ and all men and women (Neighbours/Humanity).
Religious and Moral Lessons
1) Jesus obeyed civil and religious laws, and became responsible and law abiding. But it is difficult for us to obey the civil and religious laws all the time by our own effort. You must learn to ask Jesus to give you God’s spiritual power to obey all the laws of the Church and the laws of our country always so as to become, responsible, law-abiding and patriotic citizens, just as Jesus did.
2) Jesus encouraged others to obey the law to ensure peace and harmony with God and happiness with their neighbours. You must learn to encourage others to seek the help of Jesus in obeying the law to promote peace and harmony with God and happiness with your neighbours, as Jesus did.
3) Jesus performed his civic responsibilities by paying tax to the Roman government. When you grow up, you must learn to pay your taxes, and fulfill all other civic obligations e.g. pay your debts to your friends, State, Nation and foreign countries promptly, like Jesus did.
4) Jesus performed his religious responsibilities by paying the Temple tax. When you grow up, you must learn to pay your Church Dues, Tithes and fulfill all other religious responsibilities such as harvest donation, and contributions to repair or expand the Church.
5) The qualities of love, which are: Patience, kindness, humility and faithfulness, help you to know whether your thoughts, words and actions portray ‘love’ or not. But we need God’s spiritual love to portray ‘love’ at all times. Therefore, you must learn to pray to Jesus to pour God’s spiritual love into your hearts to help you to be:
- Patient with others and with yourself in order to show love.
- Kind-hearted, for others to know that you love them.
- Humble in all things, so that others may know that you love them.
- Faithful and loyal to God, your country, your friends and all those you are in contact with, since this is the surest way of showing your love.
6) The Supreme Law is to: ‘love God’ with your whole being and ‘love your neighbour’ as yourself. You must learn to rely on Jesus to help you to love God with your whole being and your neighbour as yourself all the time.