A Bubba story

You know him, don’t you? That man at church, the one who drives the Mercedes SUV, or maybe one of those pricey new hybrids. He ‘s generous to a fault, always writing the biggest checks for whatever is needed — be it a new building or several scholarships to church camp. He’s the one preacher calls on to lead the congregation in a closing prayer, mostly because his prayers are the shortest ones, which makes everybody love him all the more.

Bubba is a good ol’ boy, who loves to fish, hunt and golf. He’s got a condo in Vail for skiing in the winters and a waterfront place in Naples. He’s worked hard for everything he’s got so nobody begrudges him that, although very few people mention  there are a lot of men who’ve worked just as hard, maybe even harder than Bubba but they don’t have a penny to shine.  Life ain’t fair, we all know that.

Back in the late 1980s Bubba and a bunch of other men hooked up with some fringe group that was going around encouraging all the Christians to stop paying taxes. They used God as a means to rationalize their decision. Said that since tax dollars were being used to fund abortions at them there Planned Parenthood places, they could opt out of giving to the guvernment what the guvernment demands.

Everybody knows the guvernment is corrupt.

Nobody ever went to jail for not paying taxes. You still ain’t clear on how Bubba and his buddies managed to get around that since everybody also knows that the three things a person’s got to do is live, die and pay taxes.

Except for Bubba.

He always finds some way around it.

When Pastor stood up in front of the church and told the congregation that their money wasn’t theirs that it belonged to God and he was just loaning it to them, Bubba slapped his knee and yelled out, “Amen!”

But then when Pastor said, “If you owe taxes pay them. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Bubba’s brow furrowed.

And you weren’t the least bit surprised a couple of months later when you heard that Pastor was leaving for a new position.

You’d overheard Bubba talking in the fellowship hall with one of the deacons about how Pastor had overstepped his boundaries. How he was sounding more and more like one of them liberal fellows.

“He’s got to go,” Bubba said.

And you knew that whatever Bubba wants, Bubba gets.

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  • Oh, yes, I know a Bubba … do I ever.

    But this Bubba is ‘humble’ … people who first meet him assume he has no money and no influence. He’s just a good old boy trying to do life.

    BUT behind the scenes, Bubba runs everything he touches. Bubba gets what he wants. And if you cross Bubba … forget it, you will pay in some way, shape or form.

    So yes I know a Bubba … all too well. I spend holiday dinners with him and call him Dad.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Bubba’s come in all shapes, sizes, genders and economic standings.

  • Jesus hit the jackpot with the $64 question re the lawfulness of paying taxes to Caesar. Nobody asked such questions of incompetent or delusional rabbis. To be a faithful teacher, you would not resent such a challenge but be energized by it.

    We fail to notice the riskiness of his answer. Since in Jesus’ own day Caesar Augustus was already known as “a son of God” and “Savior of the world”, Jesus’ answer suggests a disparity between Caesar and God–nothing short of treasonous in the Roman world order. There is a God alright–and Caesar ain’t it. Send in the secret police.

    More imortantly, Jesus’ reply puts it right back on all of us. What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God? “You have a brain, you have a heart,” Jesus says. “So go wrestle with that. Go figure it out for yourself.” Amen.

    I just learned yesterday that my brother who is a farmer paid twice as much in TAXES as my wife and I jointly EARNED last year. He’s riding the fortunate crest of soaring grain prices (caused entirely by shortage) that leave the world’s poorest ever poorer and hungrier. He shouldn’t lack for a thing in retirement while my wife and I may end up joining the homeless we worship with today.

    What exactly does belong to Caesar? What belongs to God? What belongs to us? I don’t know if my brother’s answers to those questions are easier or more difficult than my own–or if he even asks them. How he hears those questions may be very different from how I hear them. His burden, not mine.

    The only answers I’m tasked with are my own. Jesus, don’t stop asking. Jesus, help me answer faithfully, always. Even at tax time. Amen.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      grocery stores aren’t the only things supersized. farms are too.

  • Ouch. Kinda makes me feel sick.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      That’s prolly the right response. 🙂

  • “The wages of sin is death, but after taxes it’s really just more of a tired feeling.” – Paula Poundstone (okay, that has nothing to do with this post, just thought I’d share.)

    Having money means having power. That’s just the way the world works. And churches are not immune from its influence. The meek may inherit the earth, but it’s been my experience that in some churches (not all, of course–just what I’ve witnessed first hand) wealthy elders and deacons have considerably more say than their less financially secure counterparts. And that’s just sad.

  • Grupetti

    Too many Bubbas, not enough Joes:


    Bubba’s not the problem, it’s the rest of the folks who secretly and maybe subconsciously want to be like Bubba.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      You are right. Love Joe & Deer Hunting with Jesus. You are also right about the rest of us…