Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (Joshua 5:13-14)
Relate: Baseball season is underway. My Yankees are off to a slightly better than mediocre 4-2 start as the Orioles are on fire jumping out 7-0. I have more than a few friends who for some reason are Red Sox fans. Each season I pray that this will be the year that they repent and turn from their wicked ways. The timing could not have been more perfect because Syracuse miraculously made it to the final four in college basketball despite many Pharisee’s criticism that they shouldn’t even have been in the tournament. Anyone who does not believe in Divine Intervention obviously did not watch their comeback from being fifteen points down to a Virginia team that has the best defense in the nation.
When I talk about my sports teams using “Christianized” language many people will indulgently smile, then opposing fans will go right on in telling me all the reasons why I am wrong. Unless the conversation is revolving around the over-hyped (but still very good person) Tim Tebow, nobody really takes the allusions very seriously. How many of us will turn right around and use the same types of arguments in full seriousness when it comes to our politics or ethnocentrism. Republicans think God is on their side because those democrats are for murdering preborn babies and marrying off all the gays. Democrats think God is on their side because those republicans hate the poor and favor the rich. They must have ripped the book of James right out of their Bible and taken a sharpie to cross off about every third thing Jesus said.
Both sides are convinced that God is for America and against… pick your current flavor of boogeyman. It used to be the Nazis, then the commies, then Iraq and/or North Korea, now we say it is the “terrorists” and yet it is their direct victims, the refugees, who feel the brunt of our fear and enmity. Next year… who knows. There will surely be someone God is “against” to directly contrast our assurance that God is “for” us.
React: If ever there was a group of people who could legitimately say God was for them, it would be the children of Israel during the lifespans of Moses and Joshua. Think about it. God showed Pharaoh and Egypt one wonder after another that He might lead His people out. Then He speaks audibly to them all in giving them the Ten Commandments. Every morning He feeds them manna as the dew falls to the ground. Every day they are led by a cloud and every evening by a pillar of fire. He gave them water from a stone… twice. Now He has parted the Jordan just as He did the Red Sea and He will shortly be toppling the Jericho walls. I think the Hebrew people (as distinct from Israel today) could build a pretty solid case that God was “for” them. Except for one minor thing, when Joshua specifically asks Jesus, “Are you for us or for our enemies,” God responds, “Neither.”
Joshua was asking the wrong question. All too often, so do I. I find myself asking if God agrees with my opinion, or viewpoint, or stance. I am the center of this question. God is simply a prop for the castle I am building in my mind. The question isn’t: “God, are You for me” but rather, “God, am I for You?” He is Lord, not me.
Forgive me for all the times I have made it all about me. Forgive me for keeping myself at the center of my life. I was made to worship You. That means I was made to bow down, to surrender, to submit to You. God I want to be for You. With every action, with every word, with every thought, with every heartbeat, I want to be for You. Help me to continuously battle the “me” that is always trying to retake center stage. That place belongs to You and You alone. In every aspect of my life, help me to recognize You are King.