Romans 8 may be my very favorite chapter of the Bible. Okay, in truth, I have several favorite chapters, but this short segment of a letter to the Roman believers cut straight to my heart as a teenager. It brought me to a saving knowledge of my separation from God and my need for grace through Christ. It continues to cut straight to my heart today, twenty-five years later. I could go on and on about the beautiful truths laid bare in these verses, but – well, that’s not the point of this post. Let’s just look at verse 31.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
This verse rests within the very specific context of salvation. The whole chapter goes to great lengths to assure believers that once God has chosen to save us, we cannot be snatched from His all-powerful, gracious, and loving hands. How gorgeous is that truth?
The American church loves this verse as a rally cry. It’s a strong comfort, a brazen proclamation. And it’s a handy little finger-in-the-eye justification for just about anything we want to do that might offend our neighbors. You don’t like it? Well, God is for us, so who are you to stand against us?
Adding convenience to power, anybody can use it. And we all do.
Politically, I’m independent. I don’t fully align with any of the major parties, which means all of them have a problem with me. My liberal friends think I’m too conservative (because I’m pro-life, pro-marriage and traditional values, and crave small government and fiscal responsibility). My conservative friends think I’m too liberal (because I believe being pro-life should extend to all of life, not just the unborn; and because I support racial equality and justice, immigration, and gun control).
Please don’t get trapped by the issues or confessions I’ve just shared. None of that is my point. Stay with me.
I have friends on both sides of the spectrum spewing hatred and arrogance, all bolstered in religious fortification and argument. I humbly confess: I’ve taken my turns doing the same. It’s not pretty. For any of us. Least of all the Body of Christ.
This christening of ideas and motivations can go well beyond politics.
- If God is for me, I cannot fail at anything.
- If God is for me, I don’t need to defend myself or my ideas … ever.
- If God is for me, then anyone who claims Christ should agree with me.
- If God is for me and my boss is against me, defiance becomes righteous duty.
- If God is for me and my spouse is against me, then divorce is justified.
- If God is for me, He wants me to be happy and will bless any path that leads to that end.
I fear we too often forget the gravity of that very first word: IF.
We must ask ourselves: Is God for us?
Who’s side is God on? Who’s side are we on?
Two passages of Scripture stand juxtaposed. They possess almost identical wording, yet not. For some reason that verse in Romans gets a lot more publicity than this next one. Perhaps because it’s in the New Testament and this one is in the Old Testament. Or maybe it’s because the Romans passage feels empowering and brazen and this one … well, this one requires humility.
Joshua 5:13—14 reads:
“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 approached Him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’
‘Neither,’ He replied. ‘I have now come as a commander of the LORD’s army.’
Then Joshua bowed with his face to the ground in worship and asked Him, ‘What does my Lord want to say to His servant?’”
This one doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as quickly nor as easily as that verse in Romans. It doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker either. But it is so important. It gives us some practical advice for walking with the Lord.
Joshua knew this warrior was great, and he didn’t dare assume He was with him. He asked. He inquired. And guess what? The warrior wasn’t on either side. Not on Joshua’s side. Not on Joshua’s enemies’ side. The warrior wasn’t taking sides with humans. Rather, he wanted to know who was on the LORD’s side.
What happened next? Joshua humbled himself, face to the ground, and sought direction. He didn’t take another step until he heard from God. Rather than ask God to bless his human plans, Joshua inquired about God’s plans for him. Then he obeyed.
We often want God to bless us. We want Him to condone and support our plans. What would happen if, instead of asking God to join OUR side, we truly sought to join HIS side?
What would happen if, instead of asking God to join our side, we truly sought to join His side?
What if God isn’t on our side? What if – even more terrifying – we stand against Him?
It is natural to defend our positions passionately. We want to win the battle, to argue toward a won debate. May we, as humble servants of God, pause. Take a breath. And truly seek God.
It’s great if He’s on our side. It’s even better if we’re on His side.
I’ve committed the great taboo of raising politics in a post about spiritual intimacy. As such, many will want to argue points and positions based on those issues. Please don’t. This isn’t a platform for political debate or grandstanding, and any such comments will be deleted. Refuse to chase the red herring.
This post isn’t about politics. It’s about humility. Supplication. Introspection. For myself most of all.
If you have comments and insights about Scripture or about seeking God in the dailies of your life, please post them! I’d love to know your thoughts on that.