Let’s Consider the Motto: “In God We Trust”

The history of the motto is intriguing. “In God We Trust” developed over many years as it was stamped on our coins dating back to pre-civil war days (1830’s to 60’s). After the civil war, and into the early 1900’s the motto found its way on all US coin currency; from time to time it disappeared but then came back indefinitely in 1938 – but not on paper money. Not yet. Then on July 30, 1956, President Eisenhower signed into law, along with the 84th Congress, that this will be America’s motto – then it was printed on paper money as well. The law passed easily because of the motto’s intrinsic nature: It developed primarily out of a desire to say that God was on the side of the North, the Union, in Civil War days. And then under Eisenhower, the desire was to say to Russia during the Cold War, that God was on our side.

Knowing a bit of its history, the aim has been to say that we Americans trust in God to keep our political freedoms in check against all tyranny, both domestic and foreign. As an American, I too want the God who made heaven and earth to provide a peaceful, just, and safe life for me and my family. I too want to live in relative peace with Mexico and Canada, and with the rest of the world, as much as it lies within our country’s scope of interest. But here is the crux:

I’m a Christian before an American Citizen. And this nation’s motto does not say what I believe. Here is proof: Ask yourself if this country would approve of replacing “In God We Trust” with “In Jesus Christ We Trust” and what does your heart tell you? In 2003, Gallop, Today, and CNN conducted a joint Poll, and concluded that 90% of Americans still approve of the motto as is. But what if God were replaced with Jesus Christ, you know, the man who is the Son of God? If you have no problem with the Father, surely you’ll have no problem with his Son – or would you?

Could it be then that most Americans do not really trust in the only God there is, the one who sent his Son, but the one made in their image – the one in whom we want to keep us safe from other countries, to keep our taxes low, our currency value high, balance the budget, maintain the right to bear arms, keep interest rates low, and provide cheap gas?

The God that I trust in sent his Son Jesus to absorb the consequences of my sin so that I could live, not merely in a country, but, “the meek shall inherit the earth.” In God (the Father ) We (disciples of Christ) Trust (in his plan to exalt his Son over all things so that those who belong to Christ may live forever in a new earth where peace will never end).

Now that’s a motto I can live and die for, and one that will provide so much more than the American one.

 

“Three questions to Help Diagnose Possible Football Idolatry”

Below is what Kevin DeYoung recently posted. This was helpful for me. Enjoy!

“I don’t think being a huge football fan is automatically, or even normally, idolatrous. I’ve loved watching football as long as I can remember. It’s one of the many habits of sports fandom I picked up from my dad. Each year when I start to get sad about the inevitable ending of summer, I am cheered to think that with everything we start to lose in the month of September–daylight, heat, leaves, pool time, vacations, sleeping in–at least we gain football.

Americans love football like the rest of the world loves. . . .football. Except in our football the actions takes place six seconds at a time and the players pretend they are NOT hurt.

Wherever there is a consuming passion for anything that is not God there is the danger of idolatry. And football is certainly a consuming passion for many in this country. So what are some of the signs that football has grown to idolatrous proportions in the heart of the Christian?

Here are three questions to help in your self-diagnosis:

1. Is ministry and worship on the Lord’s Day compromised by my allegiance to football on Saturday and Sunday?

It’s a bit of common grace goodness to unwind during part of your Saturday watching college football. My Sunday scruples are even sufficiently lenient that a little football on Sunday can be enjoyable (and usually a nice precursor to a nap). But let’s keep our priorities straight. And twelve hours of football on Saturday, only to be dead tired for church on Sunday, is not the right priority. Some Christians drive hours every Saturday to watch their team live on the field. If that’s a way to spend time with your family and enjoy being outside seven Saturdays this fall, that’s great. If it means you miss attending your own church for the next three months, not so great. And when it comes to Sunday, football should not dictate whether we can attend a Sunday school class, whether we stay for the missionary potluck, whether we can invite a new family over for lunch, or whether we can come back for evening worship. Football is fun–in its place. Football in the place of worship is, well, worship.

2. Are my emotions all out whack?

This was a bad weekend for my football teams. The Spartans lost a marquee match-up to the Oregon Ducks. The Big Ten embarrassed itself all day Saturday. And on Sunday the Bears looked bad in losing to the underdog Bills. The only bright spot was tight end Julius Thomas going off against the Colts–a three touchdown performance which allowed me to beat my 11 year-old son in fantasy football. Talk about a Pyrrhic victory.

How do you feel when your team loses? I don’t think you have to feel especially chipper about it. We root for our teams for all sorts of reasons: regional pride, family tradition, loyalty to our alma mater, comradery with friends. A little bummed-out-ness is fine. The opposite of idolatry is not emotional detachment from most of life. And yet, some of us need to get a grip. It’s a game! A game with a ball, played by men in tights. Caring about your son’s JV scrimmage is no excuse for berating other grown men (let alone children).

Go ahead and root your guts out for the Fighting Turkey Vultures but don’t be a bore to your wife and a louse to your kids just because they lost a nail-biter to the Flying Turnips in overtime. If the good news of Jesus’ resurrection can’t outweigh the bad news of your team’s minus 3 turnover differential you’ve got some heart work to do. Cheer when your team wins and kick the dirt when they lose, but don’t show up to church a sourpuss and don’t sit their emotionally unengaged during the worship of our Triune God when everyone knows how you can jump, jive, and wail for a perfectly placed pooch punt. Where your heart leaps out of your chest, there your treasure is also.

3. Can my conversation go deeper than football?

Sports is a great entry point for many conversations. It’s more interesting than the weather and safer than politics. And in a town like East Lansing, virtually everyone knows something about Michigan State football and basketball (even my wife knows a little!). I don’t feel bad talking about sports in the church lobby or across the lawn in the neighborhood. But the point of wading through the shallow section of the pool is to get to the deep end. Don’t stop at sports. Don’t settle for being the guy who knows only one question: “Did you catch the game?” Press on to more important matters. Redeem the time in between commercials. Don’t waste your tailgate.

I see no problem in caring about football. But the man or woman who cares only about sports doesn’t care about nearly enough. Go ahead and give football a little bit of your weekend. Just don’t give it your worship.”