Whose side are you on?

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?”
- Joshua 5:13

“Whose side are you on?” This question gets asked all the time, in almost every arena of life. Politics. Work. Family. Church. Sports. Whenever there’s conflict or competition, there’s side-taking. And conflict seems to stalk us wherever we go.

Joshua had every reason to ask the question in today’s passage. He stood in contested territory looking out over his enemy’s stronghold when he spotted a man with a drawn sword in his hand. The man could have been an assassin making his way into the camp to throw the Israelites into confusion. He could have been a potential ally coming to offer his sword to the Israelite cause. Joshua had every reason to want clarity as to who this person was and what his intentions were.

Whenever we find ourselves in highly politicized, highly charged environments, it’s entirely natural to want bright lines. We seek them out of instinct.

Sometimes, we seek for these lines without even realizing that that’s what we’re doing. Have you ever noticed yourself doing this? You infer someone’s motives by something they’ve done or said and assign them to the “friend” or “enemy” camp. You assume that the enemy of your enemy is your ally. You snap up rigid walls and shields or (on the other end of the spectrum) find yourself oversharing. We slip so easily into “us vs. them.”

We’ll look more tomorrow about a different way to approach side-taking questions. Today, we want to reflect on our current practice.

Ask the Lord to help you see where you’ve taken sides and where you’ve asked people to take sides. Ask him to reveal to you the ways that’s been healthy and unhealthy for you.

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