Many times, in politics, churches, or ministries, people will have certain opinions or beliefs and go forward with their position with the statement, “God is on my side.”
I’ve been thinking about a passage in Joshua. This is a time that Joshua and Israel was obeying God. They had just dedicated themselves to the Lord and had recovered from being circumcised. They had crossed the Jordan River on dry land and were about to attack Jericho. Their leader, Joshua, had just declared his devotion to God, and the people declared they would follow him. If anyone had a right to say “God is on my side” it would be Joshua.
Joshua 5:13-14(NRSV) Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and he said to him, “What do you command your servant, my lord?”
An man appeared to Joshua with his sword drawn. Joshua asked the man if he was on Israel’s side or on the enemy’s side. The man answered that he wasn’t on anyone’s side. He was the commander of God’s army. Most scholars believe that man was Jesus Christ, the commander of the armies of the Lord. So Joshua was basically asking God is He was on Joshua’s side when he should have been making sure he was on God’s side.
Before we chide Joshua for what he said, we need to remember we often do the same thing. We have a favorite political candidate we think best typifies our values, and we ask God to be on his side. We launch out in ministry or a church project, and we ask God to bless it and be with us. There’s a difference of opinion among believers in a church, and we know our opinion is right, so we expect God to be on our side. Or we go forward with a decision in our personal lives, one we believe honors God, and we ask God to bless it and give us favor.
But God is never on anyone’s side. Never. Instead we are on His side, or we are against Him. That means we can be totally right, doing the right thing, and still not be on God’s side.
How is that possible? Here’s a few ways we could do that.
Suppose we believe we should vote for a certain candidate for president because he’s against abortion and gay marriage. These are good things. But what if somebody believes in their heart they shouldn’t vote for the man because of his spiritual believes. If we are ugly to that person, are we really on God’s side? What if the person believes they should vote for the other candidate? How do we treat that person then? How would we treat them if we were on God’s side?
When it comes to ministry, there are many people doing good things for the wrong reasons. Sometimes most of the programs and ministries in the church are not things God directed us to do but things we thought were a good idea to grow the church. That’s why church calendars are often too full with little effectiveness.
Then there’s our personal lives. Many times it’s not what we do that’s the problem. The problem is our attitude and motives. That’s why it’s important not just to do what we think God wants but to be on God’s side.
To his credit, Joshua immediately fell on his face, called himself the man’s servant or slave, and asked what he should do. That’s always where it starts when we want to be on God’s side. We need to humble ourselves, recognize that God is in control of our lives, and be ready for radical worship and obedience which is the only reasonable response for what Christ did for us.
So how about you? Is God on your side or are you on God’s side?