Every year about this time, ads, mailings, and calendars remind U.S. citizens of the need to file taxes. It is hard to forget. Other than an attempt to make money from a difficult time, the messages do not serve a greater good. There is no joy, just obligation. There is no higher purpose, just a reminder of the law. There is no sense of doing the right thing for the community; it is all about the individual. Taxes are a time of obligation, law, and self.
I do not like paying taxes any more than anyone else does. I definitely do not agree with everything the country I am a citizen of does. In fact, I disagree with many if not most of its decisions. Having said this, I am part of this community. In being and remaining a participant, I implicitly accept my role within it. I am committed to helping the community be better than it is. I have resolved to be part of the future. I will not stand on the side. I will honor my role by participating in all aspects of my membership, including taxes.
Even with my commitment, I like reminders. I want to know what the community stands for. I need to know how I am a part of it.
Far too often, those representing God’s community shape our discussion by obligation, requirement, and the law. The approach is, from my experience, one that nurtures mistrust, ignorance, and confusion.
God’s community is something I want. When the “God, King of Israel, your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: ‘I'm first, I'm last, and everything in between. I'm the only God there is.’” (Isaiah 44.6) I do not find myself focused on laws, requirements, and obligations. I see God’s reminders around me. I find God’s beauty in the world and in my life. I find God’s compassion in my relationships. I find I have the opportunity to walk with God. God gives me these reminders as an invitation to be family. The invitation is not once in a year; it is always now.
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