I was catching up with a friend not long ago who is actively volunteering with one “side” in a debated and sensitive social issue in which this person is vocal about their views. They are the type of person you would invite to a backyard BBQ, or go on a date wearing something to impress. They are trendier than most hipsters, sharper than a fine cheese, and probably scored higher than you or I on their SAT. As we got to talking about what they had been up to as of late, and they delved into some of their perspectives where social justice and spiritually come to a crossroad, they said something that struck me as interesting.
“No matter what they think it’s OK, because God is on our side.”
What an interesting statement.
While my friend continued to unpack opinions and arguments validating their stance, I kept seeing a posture I've found to be prevalent throughout our culture. It’s the idea that whatever we don’t agree with in a particular arena is “wrong”, and not only are we “right”, but “right” because of something which can’t truly be disagreed with. We do this all time.
The nuclear bomb of this line of thinking is to back your argument with the statement that the creator of universe who created solar flares and ladybugs agrees with, and therefore validates, your way of thinking. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. Absolute truth exists, and God presents many specific ideas that He is for or against in the Bible.
But in my short span of living, I've seen God hijacked and his intentions abused for the sake of political gain, social savvy, and religious crusades countless times. This appeal to higher authority is used to position God as a Deus Ex Machina in arguments where the opposing side has a strict alternative viewpoint and to justify whatever the presenter desires.
We see this in the life of the early followers of Jesus who want Him to be their ultimate solution to the problem of Roman oppression, and we see it now centuries later in political campaigns every time election season rolls around.
If we are going to live genuinely incredible Stories beyond what we are experiencing today, we’ll need Jesus. Not for him to stand on our side of the dirt after we've drawn a line in the sand. Not to condone the choices we've made in the interest of self.
To lead us along paths that we could not follow in our own strength.
Part of our DNA in this journey must be to know…really know in a way the creeps into our bones…that Jesus is not on our side. He never has been. While God is for us, with us and in front of us, God did not break into reality covered in blood and freezing in the hands of the poor and broken as a fragile child to endorse our homebrewed batch of theology.
Jesus died so that we could be on his side.
Not so He could be on our side of the pulpit.
Or TV ad.
Or picket line.
Wherever we are as we start this journey we have to let this truth go with us. Wherever God has been the crutch for our vendettas, keystone for our selfishness, coals for our hate, or proponent of “us” over “them” we must learn to let go of those things and pick up the gospel.
This infinitely good news that Jesus has offered us is freedom from all these mechanisms and false structures we've built to aid in our comfort and control, so we can have a better Life than we've ever known.
He is not by our side playing King of the Hill; He’s by our side leading us into something better than the patches of dirt we've come to accept as the best life has to offer.