Not a Good Provider?

Not a Good Provider?

I heard a sermon recently, by a friend of mine, Dan Arsenhault, entitled, “The Answer to the Question that No one is Asking”.  Dan spoke of the time Jesus was asked by the religious folk, “Should we pay taxes to the Emperor, or not?  Jesus asked to see a coin, and answered the question with a question, as He most often did, asking, “Who’s image is on the coin?”

Dan asked a question that apparently did not occur to the religious folk in this story, “Whose image is on you?”

He went on to explain that we are all created in the image of God and that God’s indelible stamp is on each of us.

In this context, Dan reviewed the message of the Scriptures, which we should, if we carry God’s image, love one another as (as much as) we love ourselves…  He admitted his guilt in not doing so, and all who understood his message came to the point that, neither do we, and we must fall back on the justice and mercy of God.

We all have a God, in whom we are carriers of His image.  To NOT render to our fellow man, created in the same image, all that we have, without condition, without limit, is a failure to render what rightly belongs to God.

At least, that is my take on the sermon today….

It got me thinking, did Jesus actually answer the question about whether we should pay taxes to the Emperor, or not?  I think perhaps, Jesus leaves it up to us….  Some would say, no, we should not pay taxes, where about 40% of our spending goes toward military programs designed to kill those created in the same image of God that we are, including, according to what I heard from Dan, (I am hard of hearing, correct me if I am wrong), we spend 40 Billion Dollars to kill other Christians each year.  I would add, let alone the Trillions we spend to kill other humans likewise created in the image of God.

So, after the sermon, I thanked him…  It was a very good sermon and there is another point to it which Dan did not yet share…..  Regarding what happens to the image of God in a person if he goes to hell, whatever definition of hell it is….  Maybe we will go there and find out if we do not love one another…

Well, I was reminded of something else, since I have been wearing an orange plastic bracelet the past couple of months, which also asks another unanswered question related to our discussion of whose image is on the coin, and other things we are speaking of….  The bracelet is from Sojourners,, and the question is: “What would Jesus Cut?”  To me, a very good question in view of our budget crisis, and any image on our U.S. coins or paper currency, being pretty much worthless, anyway….   Should we cut our military budget, or our Social Justice Budget, intended to care for those created in the image of God?  Which is it?  I gave Dan the bracelet I was wearing, since I had one more, and, being the ex hippie I imagine him to be, he put it right onJJ..   Now, I have given away all my plastic bracelets, but most of those, except my wife, Wink, to whom I gave them, (Wink put hers right on), were apparently not thinking it was exactly the best thing to be wearing around with such a question on it, “What would Jesus cut?”  Is it only those of us who are just a little out of the box, slightly off our rockers, according to the Emperor, (who himself, wears no clothes), who appreciate and understand such things as this…  (I also wore my St. Louis Cardinals red logo shirt under my jacket when I went to a friend’s wedding recently:):))  After all, it was the day after the Cardinals won the World Series, what else is one supposed to wear? :):)

Then, in my random thoughts I thought of how many, who knew my Father, think I am created in his image.  One family friend called me Lawrence, which was my Dad’s name, one time…  Now, as I spout off such craziness as this and other essays and articles, they are sure I am definitely created in his image.  I remember a faded out old farm truck, a 1939 KB5 International, I think I recall, with hand lettering by my father, signs on the side of the door, Lawrence B. Cooper & Son….  I was his first son, and the other sons never got added to the doors on that old truck….  My Dad did all he could to provide, given the very difficult economic times on the farms he farmed in those years…  I remember a statement my mother mistakenly made one time, in front of my Dad, actually, and in public, that “Lawrence is just not a good provider”..  I am sure that cut him to the heart, having done probably all he could for us, a large family of 7 children…..  I have not been such a good provider, myself, recently, in these worst of economic times for housing in recorded history…  I don’t think the U.S. Government needs to look to me for assistance…

Then, after those thoughts, I was thinking, I am created in the image of another Father, God, who owns the whole universe, and I am a member of a family, called the Church, whose husband, Jesus, is a very Good provider…  Also, I am left with indelible marks of this God, the Holy Spirit, I believe with all my heart….  I believe we have a good provider, a husband who owns  the whole earth and all that is in it…..  Maybe the problem is not God’s provision, but our own failure to provide and share in a loving manner for ALL those created in God’s image, as much as lies within us…  I think we have enough…  We are well provided for…

Dan’s original premise that we are all created in God’s image was based upon the book of Genesis, where man is also early on instructed to “dress and keep” the earth.  Would God’s original mission and vision for those created in His image not be that we should not only take care of God’s provision for us, but also dress and keep, cloth the naked, feed the hungry, etc., of those likewise created in the same image?  ALL of them, not just those who look and believe exactly like us?  Oh, and for those who do believe just like us, if we are Christ followers, for instance, should we not be known for the same character of Jesus, of His unconditional love and forgiveness, of His Peace in us, which He left us?

What are we going to do with this provision?  If the U.S. thinks it is running short on funds, which it definitely is, might we soon develop and answer to another question that apparently not a lot of people are thinking about answering, “What would Jesus Cut?

Thank you, God, for all you continually provide, and thank you, Dan, for serving as a tool in His hands, working for Goodness in God’s own garden…..


John Cooper