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.