n God we trust – but not because of pocket change
By: Pastor Lawrence Lee, United Church of Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
There’s nothing like experiencing the other to put your everyday life in context. Last month I was in Canada for a week’s vacation with my kids to take in some theater at the Stratford Festival. We were getting used to all the little things (and big things) that were different there – road signs in kilometers, our ever present cell phones stopped working once we were out of range of our U.S. provider, and the currency.
If you’ve had occasion to be across the border recently you’ll know that they’ve made a lot changes. There are no longer any bills less than five dollars in circulation and they have done away with the penny. (A reform we could stand to emulate, in my opinion.)
My son, Simon, noticed another difference in our currency. “What do you think about having ‘In God We Trust’ written on our money?” he asked.
I knew where this was going. My son is very skeptical of religious sentiments in public life. So I took the rhetorical offensive.
“It’s a blatant lie,” I said, and meant it, and still do. As a nation, we don’t trust in God. We put our trust in our money, in our economic power. We put our trust in our military. But we don't trust in God as a matter of policy or practice.
Jesus told his followers not to store up for ourselves perishable treasures on earth, but imperishable treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21) and not to worry about our lives saying, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:25-26)
But we do just the opposite of what Jesus asked his followers to do. We store up food, and fuel, and arms, and money. That's our national policy, and we call it prudent.
Jesus also told his followers to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (and to give to those who ask and not to turn away from the one who wants to borrow). (Matthew 5:42-46)
But that doesn’t look like our foreign policy that sends troops across the world to occupy countries or a domestic policy that is more about protecting the haves than providing for the have nots.
So I chuckle at that little fiction on our currency, but I don’t fret. Following Jesus and trusting in God isn’t for governments to establish, it is for me to do. It’s my job to trust even when the rest of the world sneers at how foolish the path of Christ appears, but that’s not new. That’s always been the case.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, said that the message of the cross seems to be foolishness but that “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
So I’ll put my trust in God in spite of what the coins in my pocket say, not because of it.
The Rev. Lawrence Lee has been the pastor of the United Church of Two Harbors since August 2003 and can be found on Facebook at revlawrencelee.