How’s you Latin? Well if you are like most Americans, it’s limited to a small number of words and phrases like carpe diem (thanks Robin Williams). Or maybe a handful of you remember this phrase from business school: caveat emptor!
I’ve always liked that last phrase in particular; it just sounds like something Julius Caesar might have shouted before crossing the Rubicon. But nah, it’s nothing that glorious. In fact, it’s far more likely to be uttered in Rome, GA today than in Rome, Italy. Don’t believe me, Google it and see what it means…
Why am I talking about Latin in preparation for our study in Luke this week? Well, realize it or not, it’s very likely that everyone reading this blog today uses Latin every single day without even knowing it. Paid cash for anything lately? Then you are fluent in Latin, or maybe I should say flush in Latin for some of you!
Open your wallet, pull out a dollar bill, flip it over on the back and what do you see? There it is, right there in front of your very eyes on your very own legal tender; “Annuit Coeptis,” “novus ordo seclorum,” and of course “e pluribus unum.” All very strategically placed there, intentionally under the watchful, all-knowing eye. Flanked by stars, bars, stripes, leaves, olives, arrows, a pyramid and a good ole bald eagle for good measure. And to top it all off, placed squarely in the top-center portion of the note are these famous words; “In God We Trust.”
Yes indeed, Mr. Franklin, God has truly favored our undertaking. Correct, Mr. Jefferson, a new order of the ages has surely begun. And without question Mr. Adams, out of many has in fact come One. But not in the way you meant when you collaborated on the design of our common currency.
Yet still, our nation was forged upon that declaration once proudly uttered across the land without shame or embarrassment. But sadly today, many would have us remove those four powerful words from our currency just as the direct object of that phrase has been removed from our classrooms and civic halls. Ironically, for far too many in our land today, that once powerful phrase has been reduced to a simple idiom of a bygone era. No longer do we trust in God as a nation, but instead the very currency that once proclaimed such truth has now become a god itself to the masses.
Franklin, Jefferson and Adams wanted a symbol of divine providence on the dollar bill and that’s why they placed the all-seeing and watchful eye on our currency. It is an ancient symbol of divinity. And by inscribing the words “In God We Trust” on the back they were saying we recognize your blessing; we honor it and we place our trust in you. Oh, how I long for a day in our land when that phrase will once again be spoken with power and conviction!
Every time I glance upon a dollar it begs the question of me; “In whom do you trust?” As divine providence would have it; our study in Luke this week raises a very similar question. As we embark together on a new year, let us re-examine our priorities and recommit ourselves to living in the fullness of His glory and grace by being generous, by being faithful and trustworthy, and by serving the King of Kings first and foremost, again and always. That’s the lesson of Luke 16:1-15 in a nutshell, but there is so much more there for the taking.
For more information about our current series, including study materials from previous weeks, please see Doubtless Living: The Gospel of Luke.