Whose side are you on anyway?

I thought the nation was divided before, but I hadn’t lived through this November. And here we are, more than a month later, and we’re still reeling. So is the rest of the world. And the only thing that’s certain is how uncertain everything is.

The last year has been about taking sides and switching loyalties and who you support and why. And once everyone made up their mind about all that, it turned into a mud-slinging event, where everyone who disagreed with everyone else made an extreme effort to offend as many people as possible. The last year has been one side against the other, and I’m not sure anyone actually won.

People are really good at taking sides down here. It’s a common topic of conversation, especially around election time. Are you on Donald Trump’s side? Are you on Hillary Clinton’s side? No? Then you must be on a third-party candidate’s side, right? Which one? Who’s side are you on?

If you side with someone, that means you agree with them. That means you believe the same things they believe and support the same causes they support. You stand for what they represent. Right? Isn’t that how it works?

That’s the thought that kicked me in the head during a worship service at my church a few weeks ago. “Our God” by Chris Tomlin is one of those classic worship songs that I never get tired of singing, and I love the way my church sings it. Loud and bright and joyful, because it’s so very true. But as the words of the bridge left my mouth, I stopped.

In case you aren’t familiar with the song, the bridge lyrics are: “And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?”

Bold words. Powerful words. And true, because they’re based on Scripture. Romans 8:31 says, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” And if you think about it, who wouldn’t want God on your side?

This is God we’re talking about. Maybe I speak for myself, but having God on my side sounds like a pretty fabulous idea. I mean, if God is on my side, that means I’m right about everything.

If God is for us, that means He supports us. He agrees with us. He stands for what we represent. Right? As we understand the concept of taking sides, isn’t that what it would mean?

That’s how we live. That’s how we treat God sometimes. We look at Him like He’s some genie in the clouds, who exists solely to fulfill our wishes. He’s all-loving, and that means He supports us in every path we take. And He wouldn’t ever correct us or discipline us or discourage us from making a choice He doesn’t like. He’s a good God, after all.

Personally, I’m not sure a god who lets us get away with everything can be classified as good. Children who are allowed to get away with everything aren’t usually liked. Parents who let their kids get away with everything aren’t usually considered role models. So why do we think God is different?

But God is on our side. That means He agrees with us.

Maybe not. See that tiny little two-letter word, if? That’s a huge word. If. It means the statement that follows may not be true. It means the statement that follows is conditional.

If God is for us. If God is on our side. If means He may not be.

So what do you have to do to get God on your side? What price do we have to pay? What task do we have to accomplish?

The answer isn’t easy, but it’s very simple.

If you want God on your side, you need to be on His side.

See, God isn’t overwhelmed by our greatness. Compared to Him, we’re less than fleas. He doesn’t play favorites (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11), and our fantastic attempts to doing good don’t impress Him (Isaiah 64:6). We can’t convince God to be on our side through our own merit.

And, frankly, why would God want to be on our side? What can we do for Him? What can we offer Him? He’s God! Maker of the Universe. Inventor of gravity. Creator of quasars and feathers, to quote singer Chris Rice. He can do anything. He can be anywhere. He knows everything. Time has no meaning to Him.

We are nothing. And the only thing we can offer Him is our hearts.

Exodus 32:26
So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the Lord’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him.

Who’s on God’s side? That’s the question we should be asking. Who represents what God stands for in our culture? Who agrees with God? Who supports God?

There are only two sides that matter, God’s side, and the world’s side. I don’t have a side. Neither do you. Neither does the President or your senator or your town mayor or your teacher or your annoying little brother or sister.

Whose side are you on?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to choose sides. But this world isn’t perfect. And we do. But when it comes to who you support or what you choose to do or how you choose to do it, you only have two choices for what side to take. You can either choose to do what the world says is right, or you can choose to do what God says is right. There’s no middle ground. There’s no third party.

If you want God to be on your side, you have to be on His side first.

There are only two sides you can be on

What is it about human nature that compels us to take sides against each other? Throughout history, you can see evidence of how groups of people eventually split apart over some disagreement, which then led them to either take up arms against each other or run away to do their own thing.

Groups with opposing ideologies are always at each others’ throats. Democrats versus Republicans. Christians versus Muslims. Batman versus Superman. We have an opinion, and when we find people who share our opinion, we like ganging up on others who disagree.

And, to be perfectly honest, sometimes, taking a side is good. You have to stand for something, right? But how do you know which side is right? That’s the hard part. If you take a side, that means you have to stand against the other side. And if there’s nothing else I’ve learned in my life, it’s that every story has more than one side. So if you’re using somebody’s story to decide which side you’re going to support, you might want to make sure you have considered all the angles. Otherwise, if the side you’re supporting turns out to be full of it, you’re going to be a part of hurting a lot of innocent people.

So how can you know what side to be on? Can you choose a side that you can always know will be the right one?

pound_britishToday’s verses are Joshua 24:14-15.

“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

This is Joshua talking. Joshua took over leading the Children of Israel when Moses was finished. And this is at the end of Joshua’s life, where he’s reminding the people around him of the choices they had. They could choose to follow God, or they could choose not to follow God.

Funny enough, those are the same two choices we have today. Not much has changed.

In our lives, in our families, we have two choices. We can either live the way God has told us to live, or we can choose not to. Now, that looks different from person to person. Maybe you have a wonderful family, but just because you have a great life doesn’t mean you’re following God.

And, granted, following God looks different from person to person, but the number one characteristic you’ll see in the life of someone who is pursuing God with his/her whole heart is a singular focus on pleasing God.

So the next time someone asks you whose side you’re on, think about it. There are really only two sides you can be on. God’s Side or Not God’s Side. It’s not about the democrats and the republicans. It’s not about the liberals and the conservatives. It’s not about the air-in-the-tires Amish and the no-air-in-the-tires Amish (no, I’m not making that up). Are you on God’s side or aren’t you?

When God says trust Him, do you trust Him? When God says to love Him, do you love Him? When God says to love people, do you love people? Or are you buried so deep in your own self-importance that all you can see and hear is what you want for yourself?

The attitude of the heart directs our actions. What’s in our hearts that comes out of our mouths. Why matters more than What. Granted, some “whats” are always a bad idea, regardless of the why, but you understand what I’m saying.

It’s easy to support someone who is hurting because there’s something in us that wants to stand up for the little guy. We all cheer for the underdogs. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But are you sure your underdog is really telling the truth? Or are you letting blind loyalty direct your choices rather than God?

If taking a side means that you have to hurt someone else, physically or emotionally, I don’t think that’s what God wants or asks. So count the cost before you take a side, and make sure you’re on the side that is truly blameless. That’s the only side that will keep you blameless too.