I remember the 2017 conversation vividly. Two women who represented very different values locked arms to present the danger they saw ahead. One woman was a left-leaning, agnostic, lesbian in law enforcement from Wisconsin; the other was a Christian homeschooling mother from Tennessee. One wore a masculine hairstyle, shirt and jeans, the other sported long hair with curls, and a feminine dress. Strange bedfellows? Apparently. But they had a unified purpose—to cause people to think and see the dangers that lay ahead with the transgender movement. ‘Don’t you see, girls are at risk!’ first one expressed it and then the other. Theirs was a united, passionate plea at the Q Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Yes, it made me think. Obviously, I am recalling it now. Hmmm…
On Tuesday of the week Jesus came into Jerusalem, two groups who despised each other1 locked arms, seeking to discredit Jesus any way they could. Particularly after Jesus had just told the brilliant parable of the tenant farmer.2 This was the subject of my last briefing “You are in control” https://conta.cc/3rp0BS8, when Jesus called them out, and showed them their demise. (The parable also reminded us there is a limit to God’s grace—he does not force it on us. And because death waits for no man and can sometimes be inconvenient and unexpected when it comes, we ought not take his proffer of grace lightly. The door will not always be open.) Hmmm…
Throughout the next several days of that week, the Jewish leaders (five factions in all), would slink away from these encounters with Jesus. Ostensibly, they would lick their wounds and then conspire to present another scenario that would show Jesus’ followers, or more importantly, the Roman authorities why Jesus was a danger to all of them. In this instance, they are trying to pit the Jews against the ruling Romans—surely, either way Jesus would infuriate one of the two sides in this discussion.
“And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.”3
When I was small, my mom used to say to me, ‘I can read your writing just as fast as you can write it,’ meaning ‘I know what you’re up to – even before you do it.’
Jesus read their writing—he knew their hypocrisy, their motives to entrap him. Many times, throughout his ministry, Jesus went a different direction—out toward the lake, up to a mountain, out of town to a garden – as it had not been the right timing to proclaim publicly that he was Christ. But now, the time had come, and he knew the score.
So when they brought up taxes and Caesar, he knew their thoughts.
Thoughts – yours, mine. Just as Jesus knew their thoughts and motives, God knows our thoughts as well. David said to his son, “the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts.4
God knows everything about us, including our thoughts. Again, David: ‘you discern my thoughts from afar…’ and further, ‘Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.’5 Yikes! That is my first reaction.
Again a thought occurs to me of a phrase that became a motto adopted by many Christian scientists, indicating that scientific research, ideas and discovery were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” Johannes Kepler also believed that scientists must guard against the propensity to “glorify our own minds instead of giving God the glory.”6 Please see note below**
God knows my thoughts, just as Jesus knew the thoughts and motives of the religious leaders. I want my thoughts to be good, I want them to be productive and I want them to be positive; I also want them to honor God. Is that even possible? Stay tuned… that will be the subject of our next Morning Briefing.
But for now ~ a prayer.
Dear Father, you know all about us. I pray that we will think more about you, even today, that in so doing, our thoughts might be better, that our thoughts might be good, that they might take us in the right direction. Amen.
Bear this in mind: God is in your story--https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryD3D9X2myk
in the footsteps of Jesus, gospel of Mark, #37
1 - the Herodians and Pharisees
2 – Mark 12.1-8
3 – Mark 12.13-17, ESV
4 – 1 Chronicles 28.9
5 – Psalm 139.2b, 4
6 – “Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him: Christians can Believe In and Teach Science”, https://www.geneva.edu/blog/faith/can-christians-teach-science#:~:text=Johann%20Kepler%20coined%20a%20phrase,of%20giving%20God%20the%20glory
**Now this is crazy. I finished writing and podcasting early this morning, then set about to make some breakfast, hit play on one of my podcasts; look at the title of this new book: Thinking God's Thoughts: Johannes Kepler and the Miracle of Cosmic Comprehensibility Wow. podcast link:https://www.colsoncenter.org/upstream/why-is-the-cosmos-comprehensible-melissa-cain-travis-2/