The phrase “Gott Mit Uns” on this German military belt buckle that includes an eagle and a swastika was a new phrase for me and I was unsure of what it meant. After I did some digging I discovered that this phrase “Gott Mit Uns” means “God With Us”. This phrase was engraved on the German Wehrmacht soldiers belts but not on the SS soldiers. The Wehrmacht who wore this symbol “Gott Mit Uns” were the standard military force of Germany while the S.S. where a special unit of bodyguard and fanatics who protected Hitler who eventually grew to become a great force. While the S.S. forces had a different motto we cannot deny that the regular military force of Germany became highly influenced by Hitler and this elite military force.
I think this naturally leads us to ask, “How could the German army have the phrase ‘God With Us’ on them while committing so many horrible crimes against humanity?” While I think this is a very important question it is also something we have seen done throughout history. People have used God’s name time and time again to show that God is “on our side” no matter if what they are doing is consistent with who God is. We can look back throughout history and see the devastation that happened in the Crusades over many years that killed an estimated hundreds of thousands of people. While the Christians, Muslims, and Jews were fighting to take back the Holy Land it was being done in the name of God from their standpoint, or another way to put it would be Gott Mit Uns, they believed that God was on their side and a part of their cause. We have also read how Muslims have yelled, “Allah Akbar” which means “God is Greater” while killing innocent people. We even fall into this trap in America today where we call ourselves a Christian nation, we continue to say, “In God We Trust”, and at the same time we commit atrocities that are so unlike Christ.
Before people jump through their computer screen at me and accuse me of saying Americans are the same as the Nazi soldiers or Muslim Extremists please understand that this is not my point. My point is that throughout history in both secular and religious cultures God’s name has been used to support causes that honestly are not that Godly. Around this point, people are usually pretty quick to point to the devastating destruction that was done in “God’s Name” in the Old Testament. Yet, we need to remember to view who God is and what God does through who Jesus is. In the New Testament in the book of John 1, it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The text goes on to later say, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us! So if Jesus is God in the flesh then we look to him to see how we are called to live.
I think one of the biggest challenges we see with this calling is when Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon would have been incredibly controversial because of a simple phrase, “You have heard it said…”. Six different times Jesus says this phrase and points out something that had been passed down from generation to generation from Moses that needed to be understood in a different and more challenging way. Think how many times we as a people do something because we have been taught that is what is right even if it not truly the best picture of who Jesus has called us to be. Think of how many times acts are called Christian yet fail to reflect Jesus. Jesus went on to say that he did not come to destroy the law, but he came to fulfill it. Jesus not only met the requirements of the law but in the Word of God becoming flesh he was completing the law. When we look at Jesus we see him ushering in a new kind of kingdom, a kingdom that is not of this world. The way of Jesus is the way that leads to healing, redemption, and restoration. The way of Jesus is not an eye for an eye, but of seeking to pray for and love our enemy. Instead of Jesus’ kingdom being brought in by force and dominating others it was ushered in by him dying on the cross so sin and death could be conquered!
So when we say “God With Us” I fully believe this is true because Jesus has come and dwelt among us; However, I think a more accurate thought for us to reflect upon is are we with God? As Christians are we seeking to form God into our image and desires or are we seeking to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ? When we read the words of Jesus in the Scriptures and we see how he called his followers to live are we choosing that path? Are we picking up our cross and following him or are we asking Jesus to follow us? So once again, yes God is with us but are we with God?