I was born a citizen of the United States. My parents and grand-parents and back several generations were also citizens. Yet, if I want to stay out of jail, I had better get my taxes sent in. Sometimes it feels like I have to pay to live here, even though this is my home.
Now, I understand the argument in favor of taxes. There are services I expect to receive and those services cost money. The taxes I pay, all political griping to the contrary, are simply participatory. Because I participate in the benefits, I participate in the cost. The idea seems reasonable. Of course, if everyone were free to contribute whatever they wanted, the government wouldn’t have enough to cover the costs of the programs we expect. So taxes are basically forced financial participation.
It is interesting that people who are so willing to accept citizenship in Heaven as a free gift are also willing to accept participatory costs in maintaining that citizenship. In other words, you have to do a certain amount of good works and stay away from a certain amount of bad things if you really want to stay in the system. Some say you can actually lose your citizenship in the Kingdom of Christ if you don’t do what you are supposed to do. Others won’t go that far, but infer that there will be some kind of punishment if you don’t participate in the work of the Kingdom.
So, how do you like paying taxes? Most of us do so a little grudgingly. In fact, taxes are nerve-racking, intrusive, demanding, and costly. A lot like religion. It has certainly been my observation that few “religious” people are happy. They are so bound up in trying to meet the requirements that they feel burdened and discouraged. They reach the end of their lives hoping they have done enough, much like we hope things are right when we mail our tax forms.
I know that the Bible speaks of citizenship in Heaven and life in the Kingdom of God. But there is another metaphor that is actually more important and helpful. We are part of a family!
I don’t pay taxes to be in my family. My family exists because of blood and love. We need each other. We participate for the good of the family. If someone in the family doesn’t participate, we care and try to encourage, but the rest of us go on and keep the door open. A brother or sister doesn’t stop being a brother or sister.
We are taught to call God our Father. Jesus is our brother. We are brothers and sisters in Him. His life is our life. We share with each other and love each other because we are family. Sometimes we fuss at each other, but we are still family.
And no taxes/good works are necessary in order for us to remain part of the family. We don’t have dues or membership fees or “godly expectations.” We have each other in Jesus.
On Tax Day I give thanks that my part in Christ has been secured forever by His work and His payment!