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Archive for September, 2012

Is God on my side?

In the book of Joshua the writer describes an encounter between Joshua and what is initially described as a man with a drawn sword. Joshua is ready to begin the conquest of the land, so he asks what would appear to be a natural question. “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5.13). We can picture Joshua gripping his sword, ready to fight; depending on the answer the man gives. The man then changes the dynamic when he answers, “Neither . . . but as commander of the army of YHWH I have now come.”

I’m not certain just why this story was originally written, but I believe it speaks directly to us, specifically to our view of how God acts in our lives. Essentially Joshua is asking the angel, “Are you on my side?” At first this would appear to be a legitimate question. After all, don’t all of us want God to be on our side? I have certainly been in situations where I would like to believe that.

However, I see a problem with this view. Now you may say it’s just semantics, but think about it for a moment. If God is on my side, then I’m still in charge. God’s purpose is to assist me in doing what I have determined to do. Consider how the situation changes if instead of worrying about whether or not God is on my side, I spend my efforts in making sure I am on God’s side. You see, if I am on God’s side, then I am no longer in control. God is leading. It’s His plan, His agenda. I am simply there to be a part of helping God implement His purposes, whether it is for my life or impacting the world around me. You may have heard the saying, “If God is your co-pilot, switch seats.” There is a great deal of wisdom in that. But, how does this impact my life?

One area that comes to mind would be in my prayer life. I must admit that much of what I pray about is centered around me, asking God to bless decisions I have already made, heal me or those I love who are sick, keep me safe while I am traveling. The list goes on and on. And to some degree there is nothing wrong with that. God does care about me and what is important to me.

But if that is all I focus on, my prayers reveal a view of God that needs revising. Perhaps more of my prayers should be asking God to reveal His will for my life and to open my eyes to how I can be part of his vision for me and for the world in which I live.

Seeing me as being on God’s side can also affect the way I view events in this world. It constantly amazes me that both Republicans and Democrats seem convinced that their cause is righteous, and they have God in their pocket. I believe that portraying God as supporting either the Democratic or Republican cause reflects a shallow view. Perhaps this is too harsh, but I wonder if it may border on blasphemy. As if God’s purpose for this earth is to ensure that one political party or the other is in power. What if God’s real purpose for us is not to change our political leaning, but to change our hearts, so that, Republican or Democrat, we filter those views through a deep desire to live out our lives in ways that reflect both the wisdom and the compassion of God. That kind of focus, would, I believe, change members of both parties in ways that would bring out the best of both views, perhaps even reconcile some of the bitterness that now seems to characterize our political scene.

Whose side is God on? Maybe the real question should be, “Whose side am I on?”

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