A recent report stated that Christian County alderman have approved placing a prominent sign in their chambers proclaiming, “In God We Trust.” This follows similar actions by
the communities of Billings and Clever. No doubt the legal wrangling will now begin, with some arguing against this phrase, which also appears on our money. In fact, if you get the e-mail that states “In God We Trust” has been removed from the new quarters, just ignore it. The phrase is still there but can be found on the edges of the coin instead.
Next week we will be celebrating the birthday of our country, the 4th of July, and no doubt there will be much talk about the founding of our nation, speeches about the founding fathers and their faith, and speeches on the other side of the topic. Politicians will be stumping for their own careers and for their own projects. Flags will be waving, and fireworks will be popping and exploding.
But in the midst of all of that, I hope we take a moment to remember what happens when we take our trust away from God and place it in our political processes and leaders.
The Israelites were God’s people. They followed their one God through the desert and into the Promised Land, and, for the most part, life was good. But there seemed to be one thing missing: They didn’t have a king. All the other countries had a king. Why don’t we have a king? He could lead us and tell us what God wants from us! A king would give us status among the countries. If we had a king, we would be like everybody else. Hey, Samuel, tell God that we want a king!
Israel was a theocracy, that is, it was ruled by theos, or God. Through the prophets and the judges God spoke to the people leading them through the issues of living in the Promised Land. But, just like in the desert when they begged Aaron to build the golden calf so they could worship, the presence of God was not enough. They had to have something they could see, something they could perceive, something like everyone else. How does this relate to the 4th of July? In many ways, but most importantly, because the founders of our country were men, and women, of faith and commitment to God. While not all came here for religious reasons—many came for reasons of commerce, for sure—most of those who were a part of the revolution and impending founding of the nation were sure that they were a part of something ordained by God.
Second, we find ourselves in a seemingly all-out battle between the right and the left, the “liberal” and “conservative,” the progressive and the staid, and all that falls between and to either extreme. We are followers, we humans. Our very beings draw us to follow, to be a part of something bigger than us. And once the ball gets rolling, we often tend to put our own thinking and reasoning aside to follow the crowd, to embrace “group-speak” as it were. We argue with anyone we can to get our point across, when really, most of the time we are only reciting talking points heard from our leaders.
America never was and never will be a theocracy. Yes, faith in God was a foundational part of our country and, hopefully, will always be such. However, as a democracy, we are, or are supposed to be, ruled by the will of the people expressed through our elected officials. And we who are Christians pray for those officials, that they will hear God’s voice, even when they are not listening for it, so that we will be blessed with God’s will and God’s graces. The similarity between Israel and her king, and earlier her golden calf, however, comes when we become part of the group who takes their eyes off of God and on to the system to bless us, when we stop listening to what God wants from our lives and put all our energies into what our political system and/or leaders are doing.
Please, before you react, I am not suggesting that Christians should withdraw from the political system. Never! In fact, I believe that those who profess faith in Christ should be even more involved in the system because of our faith! I believe it is God’s will that we engage with all the rights provided to us in this political system to represent what is good, and true, etc. But I also
believe, no insist, that we must retain the balance in our lives between being politically inspired and God-inspired. From the pulpits we have often heard the question, “Why is it okay to cheer and get excited at a baseball or football game but not at church?” In this context I might ask, “Why is it okay to talk about politics and get into heated debates, etc., but not ever bring up your faith and what God is doing in your life?” Why are we so embarrassed to talk about God but so ready to talk about everything else? Could it be that we are not truly trusting in God, but rather in a
I am with the alderman in Christian County; I trust in God. And I hope that my life reflects that trust in what I say and what I do. When I do engage in political conversation, I hope I have the grace to listen to others and not just bide my time until I can spew out my own “talking points.” I pray that I have spent enough time in prayer so that I can recognize God’s will, or the lack of it, in what is being presented. And I definitely expect to have spent enough time with God so that, when my human leaders disappoint or depart from what I believe to be the best path, I will be able to
stand strong for what is right, rather than what is the “party line.” We cannot know God’s will if we do not seek God in prayer and seek God in the Word. We no longer have to go through prophets to know God’s Word, it is printed for us and is in us through God’s Holy Spirit. Let us seek God first, then America’s best. Our citizenship first is in God’s kingdom, then in the United States. Go to church on Sunday and worship the One who created you and seek God’s will. Then, next Monday, when you celebrate the 4th with all the excitement and fun, be sure to take a moment to pray to the One who helped our ancestors establish this country, and pray for the courage to be a part of bringing about God’s will, not only by protest and political wrangling, but by standing for
God and living the life that God has chosen for each of us.
I end with these words from the prophet Micah: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).
Mary Kay Glunt
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church