I remember as a youth playing a game called “Capture the Flag.” It was a seemingly innocent enough pastime which pairs rival teams against one another to seize the banner flying behind the other team. To begin, the teacher would divide the students into sides, and kids would form a line, a wall in front of their flag. At some point, we would take inventory to see who was “in our camp”; who was on our side?
In America, we have reached that condition today, only on national and ecclesial scales, and in that capacity, we are truly a house divided. These sides which have been drawn are of a human construct, we each are choosing/have chosen the side with which we would align. Sometimes we favor one over the other because of moral standards, or logic, or even emotions, maybe even cultural pressure, or political correctness.
At some point, as hands are joined in the line, you need to lean forward and “inventory” who is on your side. What kind of ideology does your flag represent? What values are you standing for? Embracing? Guarding? Defending? Do these ideals square with Scripture?
In fact, who is on your side? Are they corrupt politicians? Wayward news agencies? Companies which promote anti-biblical rhetoric? Godless movements void of any Gospel message? Is it simply cultural, or political? Again, do these parties with whom you clasp hands identify well where God would have you to be?
As we look at the armies, ever-increasingly more polarized, we see “evangelicals” laced into both camps, each side chanting, “the Lord is on our side.” It is not quite that simple… the Law of Non-contradiction states that “contradictory propositions cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time.” So, both sides can’t be right. In other words, at least one side is wrong, and in regards to God’s will, both sides could be wrong.
I love the exchange between Joshua and the Lord in Joshua chapter 5. “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing 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?’ He said, ‘No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, ‘What has my lord to say to his servant?’” (Joshua 5:13-14).
I would gather that Joshua is pumped up after the victory of battle and challenges God Himself (I believe Him to be the pre-incarnate Christ) to clarify his position. Joshua, who sees the options as binary, seeks to judge if the angel of the Lord is in the “correct” camp. As to the question of sides, the Lord simply says “No.” Joshua is immediately corrected as to his deficient thinking, and he is open to correction. We are wise to learn from Joshua’s response.
I remember a story of Abraham Lincoln being asked if God was on his side. His response was telling. “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side, my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
Lincoln’s first ideal is not political, not cultural, but theological. This statement reveals that he was not seeking to drag the Lord into his camp, but ascertaining whether he had rightfully positioned himself in the Lord’s camp.
Jesus said “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls” (Luke 11:17). Speaking as a nation today this is true as well – our house divided is on borrowed time with the present-day chasm now between us – any feigned illusion of unity is torn – ragged edges and all. And, as a witness to the world, it seems the lampstand of the “evangelical” church in America has a foreseeable shelf-life.
Who is on your side? What are their stated objectives, their ideals? What is their history?
The greater question to be asked is: are you on His side?