In God We Trust.
It’s the ubiquitous phrase on our currency. We see it. We spend it. Life goes on.
The phrase “In God We Trust” first appeared on a two-cent piece in 1864. Ironically, it was at a time of incredible national turmoil and civil war: the Battle of Mobile Bay, Sherman’s March to the Sea, four million enslaved.
In God We Trust?
To turn a phrase from Forrest Gump, trust is as trust does.
In the second and third century, at great personal peril, Christians leaned in and responded to epidemic situations that not just panicked the general populace but proved fatal. As one person penned,
Carthage’s bishop, Cyprian, encouraged Christians to care for the sick and dying. They buried the dead and risked getting sick by taking in the sick. This was repeated other times in the early centuries of the church during epidemics. Christians introduced a new concern and standard of care for sick people.
The result? The church—the Body of Christ—grew, numerically and spiritually.
Fast-forward two millennia: AIDs, swine-flu, SARS, coronavirus.
What’s our response? Not a universal our but those of us that claim faith in Christ. In God We Trust?
I chuckled seeing pictures of empty store shelves once filled with soap. What were people doing before? (On second thought, I don’t want to know.) Bottled water purchased by the pallet. A four ounce bottle of hand sanitizer going for $40.
Isolation. Desperation. Fear.
In God We Trust?
The author goes on to write,
Rodney Stark, author of The Rise of Christianity, argues that some of the marked growth of the church in the early centuries can be attributed to care and compassion Christians showed for the sick. He tracks increased conversion rates during three plagues: the Antonine plague (2nd c.), the Cyprian plague (3rd c.), and the Justinian plague (6th c.). Christians demonstrated their love for God and biblical values, and they offered a very attractive witness.
I could not agree more.
What should be our response? I advise leaning in. Let’s respond in ways that honor and reflect a genuine trust in God.
Oh, yes, let’s cover our mouths when we cough, stay home when sick and, please, wash our hands.
A p-k (preacher’s kid), Mark is the eighth of nine children born to Reuben and Henrietta Meeks, prolific planters of nearly 30 churches throughout the Central Valley of California. After four decades of teaching, discipling, and ministering, including to the hospitalized and imprisoned, Mark responded to God’s call to pastoral ministry. In addition to degrees in civil engineering and public administration, Mark received his Masters in Theology from Fuller Seminary.