We’ve all read the bumper sticker that says:
“God is my copilot”
A few years after this came out…someone made another bumper sticker that said…”If God is your copilot, change seats”. This statement sums up how most of us live our lives on a daily basis. We say we are on God’s side, but the reality of it is that we expect him to be on our side. Should God be on our side?
Christians are all to eager to pray to God, when we are down, been kicked by the world, and have decided to lean off the top of the fence towards satan… towards the ways of the world. We pray for what we need, want, and some cases expect. God is not required by us to do anything FOR us. We are, on the other hand required to praise and worship Him and follow Him and His word.
I read a devotion at our watch service on New Years Eve this past year. It was about this very topic. I would like to share it with you now.
People like to believe that God is on their side. There is an abiding sense in most of us that if we believe what’s right and do what’s right, then God will have to back us. Wasn’t God on the side of the Israelites when they went into their promised land? When Joshua asked the angel fo the Lord that question, God’s angel told him no.
The answer was puzzling. Weren’t the Israelites God’s chosen people? Hadn’t He just rescued them from Egypt? How could God not be on their side?
God is on His own side. Joshua asked the wrong question. The real question for Joshua and the other freed slaves was the question for all of us: Do we expect God to support our position and not that of our opposition? Or, to put it another way, do we expect God to back us, or do we expect to back God? God isn’t on “our” side, whether it’s a basketball game, a legal battle, or a war.
Let’s see what scripture says:
Joshua 5:13 – 6:4:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “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 said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.”
At first I thought it odd that the angel was not for either side. Here was the commander of God’s army but he was not on the “army’s” side, nor was he on the side of the enemy. It puzzled me when I recently read that passage. How could God not be on the side of the Israelites who were His people? He said He was their God and brought them through terrible times. How could He possibly be neutral between His people and His enemies? It didn’t make any sense. Then I looked at the footnotes in my Bible. The footnote said: Joshua and Israel must know their place–it is not that God is on “theirside”, rather, they must fight God’s battles.”
Make no mistake, we are certainly supposed to fight on God’s side. In Luke 9:23, God commands us: “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
God’s priorities come first and we must choose positions and convictions based on His Word. So rather than looking at it as God taking sides in politics, religion or other aspects of life, we must focus on God’s eternal Word that serves as absolute truth in these matters. It seems fitting then to conclude that we are to stand on the truth rather than flattering ourselves into expecting the truth to stand with us. We can be wrong, God’s truth cannot.
We should not stand around and worry whether or not God chooses our cause, but rather we should be worried about whether or not the causes we choose are worthy of God’s attention. If we spend all day doing for ourselves and never delving into God’s word or pray or fellowshipping with others about God’s message, what gives us the right to even expect God want to give attention to our lives.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln met with a group of civic leaders. One of them asked, “Mr. President, can we pray that God is on our side?” And Abraham Lincoln responded, “I won’t join you in that prayer, but I’ll join you in a prayer that we’re on God’s side”
Asking if God is on our side is the wrong question. The question we need to ask is more difficult: Are we on God’s side?
What are we going to stand for? Who are we going to go to battle for? If we are going to expect God to be on our side, maybe we should come up with a bumper sticker that says:
“Are you on God’s side?”