One of the most classic evidences of this is the slogan used by the Germans in their twentieth-century wars against the Allies. This phrase appeared in their speeches, and I’ve even seen it prominently attached to a soldier’s helmet: “GOTT MIT UNS”—“God with us.”
Germany is not the only modern nation that has justified its actions with this phrase. Study the inaugural addresses of most American presidents, and you will quickly see that frequent reference is made to the Divine Being functioning on our side. It is quite presumptuous to make God a German, an American, or a Britisher. It’s as if we give Him honorary citizenship.
In many ways, this kind of “sloganeering” can end up being the Achilles heel of the Christian. I can rationalize my doing what I want to do by deceiving myself into thinking that God is on my side. This is the ultimate idolatry.
In many ways, this kind of “sloganeering” can end up being the Achilles heel of the Christian. I can rationalize my doing what I want to do by deceiving myself into thinking that God is on my side. This is the ultimate idolatry. What a narrow perspective it brings to life. How self-centered and destructive this can be. When I say that God is on my side, I’m declaring that I am the center of the universe, a very important universe. The very Creator and Sustainer of that universe is mobilized by me to function at my whim. All too much of contemporary Christianity smacks of this provincial egocentricity.
I am told that Abraham Lincoln had another way of looking at this issue during the Civil War when both sides were claiming God’s help. Lincoln anguished, observing how divided his nation had become: “The key issue is not whether God is on my side but whether I am on God’s side.” Do you find yourself as fascinated as I by that very subtle distinction in the use of words which produces a massive difference in one’s self-understanding?
Jr. Huffman John A. and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Joshua, vol. 6, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1986), 154.