Another Look by David Faust
Truman is famous for his quips including “The buck stops here” and “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” He’s also famous for having a middle name that consisted of one letter, the initial “S.” Over the years editors have debated whether to use a period after the “S.” The Harry S. Truman Library & Museum Web site explains:
The evidence provided by Mr. Truman’s own practice argues strongly for the use of the period. While, as many people do, Mr. Truman often ran the letters in his signature together in a single stroke, the archives of the Harry S. Truman Library have numerous examples of the signature written at various times throughout Mr. Truman’s lifetime where his use of a period after the ‘S’ is very obvious.
Mr. Truman apparently initiated the ‘period’ controversy in 1962 when, perhaps in jest, he told newspapermen that the period should be omitted. In explanation he said that the ‘S’ did not stand for any name but was a compromise between the names of his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.
The controversy about Truman’s name got me thinking about another place where removing the period makes an important difference. Remove the periods from the abbreviation for “United States,” and you’re left with nothing but “US”—and that’s not bad, because our country is made up of US.
Our elected leaders are important, but the direction of our country isn’t up to them alone; it’s up to us.
In 1382 John Wycliffe said, “This Bible is for the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Lincoln rephrased this truth in his Gettysburg Address. The quality of our government is up to us.
Political parties bring issues to light in public debate, but individual voters are the ones who actually mark our ballots. It’s up to us.
We are free to speak our minds to protect our own self-interests, but will we speak up for the children and the oppressed who have no voice? How will we act when we find ourselves in the minority? Will we treat political adversaries and citizens of other nations in a way that honors God? It’s up to us.
Individual citizens are the ones who choose our leaders, pay our taxes, sit on juries, and serve in the military. We are the ones God calls to “do good to all people” (Galatians 6:10). We are the ones God holds responsible to bring up our children, support our churches and schools, do our jobs, take care of our property, help the needy, and make our neighborhoods strong. Government should “punish those who do wrong” and “commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:14), but ultimately God determines what is right or wrong, and it’s up to us to do his will.
Mayors, governors, judges, and members of Congress have a holy responsibility granted to them by God and entrusted to them by the people, but their powers are subject to the Supreme Court of Heaven where God rules. Even the president of the United States is not the ultimate “Presider.” “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the ‘gods’” (Psalm 82:1). The Lord himself is the King of kings, the Presider over the presidents.
The ancient prophet saw a day coming when “the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him” (Daniel 7:27). We can choose to be part of that eternal kingdom, but its rules and regulations are not up for a vote. They’re up to the Lord.