Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. – Matthew 22.17-21
The relationship between the state and the church is one that goes back to the very start. The religious folk here think they have another way to catch Jesus out and discredit and embarrass Him.
‘So Jesus,’ do we need to pay our taxes? Do we need to recognise Roman authority over the Jewish nation?’
Surely Jesus would be stuck here. If He said yes He would be disloyal to Israel and if he said no he would be liable for arrest for telling people not to pay their taxes. He couldn’t possible have a good answer to this one!
Jesus’ answer though was simple. He took a Roman coin and asked them who was on the coin. ‘Caesar,’ of course. ‘Then give Caesar what is his and God what is His.’ Jesus here relates the reality that His people living on Earth have a responsibility to both our earthly realm and our heavenly kingdom.
It really only makes sense. The Bible makes it clear that God’s people need to be the best citizens of anyone around them. We obey the law. We respect our leaders. We take part in our communities. And yes, we pay our taxes.
None of that detracts from being a citizen of the heavenly kingdom. We fulfil our responsibility to God and we secure our responsibilities to human government. Only if that conflicts to we need to make a choice and deal with the consequences.