Have you ever wondered why the slogan “In God We Trust” is printed on our money? Isn’t that oxymoronic? Maybe we should start imprinting the same slogan on our guns. That might calm our trigger-happy fears so that our aim can be more deadly. In God we trust. Really?
The fourth stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner (written during the War of 1812) contains the phrase “And this be our motto: In God is our trust.” In 1861, Rev. M.R. Watkinson petitioned the Treasury Department to add a statement recognizing the Almighty God in some way on our coins “to relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism.” Part of the motivation was to declare the God was on the Union side of the Civil War (Wikipedia). Of course He was.
A nation whose Christian occupants claim it is built on Christian values prints a God-trusting slogan on its Mammon. That’s putting sheep’s clothing on a wolf.
Then the Red Scare in the 1950’s led the conservatives in congress to distinguish the United States from the Soviet Union, which promoted state atheism. In God We Trust became the official motto in 1956.
Jesus said, “Love your enemy.” He trusted we’d use our intelligence to figure out how to do that, with money and with guns.
I’m not unreasonable. I don’t believe Jesus would suggest you or I stand back and watch as innocent people are victimized. Nor do I think Jesus was promoting the total absence of protective weapons. There are dangerous people in the world who have never felt love nor given it. They are in it for themselves. They live in their own hell. They don’t trust in God, nor do they trust people. Here’s evidence that Jesus understood the reality of the need for reasonable protection:
35 Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.” 36 He said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.” 38 They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” He replied, “It is enough.” 39 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him (Luke 22:35-39 NRSV).
Jesus realized the time for confrontation had come and he was leading his disciples into a firestorm fueled by emotion. And the people with the “guns” to be feared were (as usual) the religious ones. It’s okay to be prepared because there are irrational people who operate from emotions. It’s okay to defend yourself. The Koran also says it’s okay to defend yourself. However, it agrees that aggression is wrong.
Eleven disciples and two swords. Jesus said, “It is enough.”
The religion of Islam is not bad. Just like swords are not bad and guns are not bad. People are just undeveloped. The meaning of Islam comes from the Arabic root “Salema” which means peace, purity, submission, and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to God’s law. The professed Islamic militants who promote aggression are not obedient to God’s law as written in their Koran, they are hypocrites…just like those Christians who promote aggression and retaliation are not obedient to the guidance of the One they call Christ.
Christians who promote an eye for an eye retaliation are not being obedience to the teachings of Jesus, who said, “You have heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ but I tell you, do not resist an evil person” (Matt. 5:38-39 NKJV). Jesus wasn’t saying, don’t defend yourself. He was saying, don’t retaliate. Don’t repay evil with evil. You will only continue the cycle of sin and evil. Don’t add gasoline to the fire. Be mature. Rise above evil. Sit down with your enemy and find out what he/she fears from you. Then assure him/her that you also want him/her to be secure and happy in life. Then work to make it happen. This is loving your enemy. Show him/her what it looks like to be mature. Remove fear, don’t increase it.
One last point:
“Do not fear those who would kill the body but cannot kill the soul…But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses (homologeō) Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies (arneomai) Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt.10:28, 30-33 NKJV).
What is the context? It’s trusting in God. To “confess” Jesus is to agree with him and his teachings. It’s trusting his teachings are true. Here are the definitions for the two underlined words in the passage:
homologeō – to speak or say the same together with another, that is to say to speak the same language, to say the same things, that is to say to assent, accord, agree with, coincide with, grant, admit, confess.
arneomai – to deny, disown; to say no, refuse, decline, renounce, reject.
Do you agree with Jesus and his teachings? They are one and the same thing. You decide for yourself.
Put your faith into action. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus. Really…trust!
But do background check first…and don’t give a sword or a gun to anyone (especially a religious leader) who has a history of acting before he thinks, like Peter, the first pope of the church. Go figure.