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The Art of Choosing Sides

Posted in Decision-making, Encouragement, Faith, Goal-setting, Home Page, and Overcoming difficulties

As I waited in line for a vanilla latte, I became the audience for two men debating recent headlines. I swiped at my phone’s screen to protest my audience participation. My only escape came as this question ran through my mind:

In our politically partisan, socio-economic sliced and self-preservation society, whose side are you on?

Whenever my preferences begin to pile up, it’s because they offer me pleasure or protection. And I fiercely protect what I enjoy or who I love. I’m guessing most people do.

But choosing sides becomes complicated when vulnerability is needed or my adoration is misguided. The line for what’s best is blurred. Surely, there is a way for the best choice to become clear.

Each of the men in front of me thought they knew the answer. I could hear their struggle with issues of political party over patriotism and race over righteousness. Unfortunately, it’s a frequent struggle in our nation these days.

However, for lessons on loyalty, few biblical examples teach us more than the Israelites in Exodus 32.

Rescued from Egyptian oppression and delivered through a parted Red Sea, the Israelites had front row seats to the wonders of God. But when their leader, Moses, took too long to return from a summit with the Almighty, the Israelites took to worshiping a golden calf. (vv.1-4)

It was the golden version of their desires.

They were oblivious to the calf’s inability to deliver them from an army of ants or part a drop of water. What mattered most to them was they were in control. Their view was the only voice they wanted to hear.

Hence through Moses, God threw down a gauntlet: Who will be on the Lord’s side? (v.26)

The question grabbed their attention. It certainly has mine.

Truth lives on His side. It’s not always easy to face; but it’s always found in His Word. My Jesus loving heart wants to abide there. My golden ideas want me elsewhere.

Thankfully, the Israelites’ experience shows us this:

Choosing sides reflects what we value the most. There is always an agenda to our assertions.

Choosing sides requires choosing distance from other demands. The boundary is bound to challenge our relationships and our thinking.

Choosing sides results in our progress in God’s plan or our pitfall. The Israelites who stood in their own understanding also stood against Him. Their choice brought their destruction. But the ones who stood with God received His blessing. (vv. 25-29)

The two men in front of me continued their debate. Sometimes they paused long enough for me to realize even when we feel like we’re not choosing, we’ve still made a choice. We have sympathy for one cause and disdain for another. We gravitate towards those “like us” and become distant from those who are not.

Consequently, division is pervasive. Unity is elusive. Social media is explosive.

I feel a gauntlet in my soul.

When I take God’s side against myself, I take myself into the center of His will.

As my pile of preferences crumble, my weakness is held by His Strength. His love and wisdom form the godly version of my desires. Then I realize He’s on our side too.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? – Romans 8:31-32 NLT

The men got their order and walked to a table nearby. Eventually, I left with my latte. But in the process, I saw how the art of choosing sides is at its best when it becomes the aim of pleasing God. And if we hit the mark, it brings hope for the heart and joy to the soul.

10 Comments

  1. This is an awesome piece Joy. Your writing is beautiful. Your thoughts well laid out. Bravo friend.

    August 23, 2017
    • Joy
      Joy

      Thanks Christy!

      August 23, 2017
  2. Barbara Peacock
    Barbara Peacock

    Raise the question. I am on the Lord’s side. Whatever vessel He uses to speak truth, righteousness and justice…that is the voice we as a nation are seeking and praying to hear. Justice always prevails even when the enemy looks like he is winning… well not winning…it is just a facade! Psyche! It is fixed. That is a thank you Jesus moment!

    August 23, 2017
    • Joy
      Joy

      Amen! God is faithful to raise up voices who will speak His truth and stand for His principles. When we are yielded to Him, He uses whomever He will. Our nation is in desperate need of such voices. Thanks for sharing a “thank you Jesus” moment!

      August 23, 2017
  3. “The golden version of their desire.” LOVE your post. Your ability to have an eternal perspective and discuss the core/heart of our free will to choose. Makes me think of a quote in my house, “Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.”

    August 23, 2017
    • Joy
      Joy

      Hi Karen – love the quote at your house! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words about this post. I’m glad it resonates.

      August 23, 2017
  4. This is a great piece. Brings to mind the word of the Lord through Isaiah, “my thoughts are not your thoughts.” what makes our thoughts and “golden desires” so inferior is that they are always made from a platform of limited information. Its can be dangerous to make critical decisions that are primarily in our favor when they are based on limited informaction. The alignment of our mind with His is the surest path to life and blessing.

    Thank You For Sharing Your 💙

    August 24, 2017
    • Joy
      Joy

      Thanks Anthony! I appreciate your observations about Isaiah 55:8 — well said. Thanks for sharing your heart too!

      August 24, 2017
  5. Such an excellent concept, Joy. Thank you. I especially appreciated your points about the Israelites worshipping the calf!

    August 31, 2017
    • Joy
      Joy

      Thanks Bethany! I’m glad the Israelites are still speaking to you too! 🙂

      August 31, 2017

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