Rumblings from the Pastor’s Study:
“…choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
Being that Labor Day is coming up soon, the title of an old labor song occurred to me as I was working on this Rumblings, “Which Side Are You On?” Written by one Florence Reese around 1932 during a time of violence between mine owners and miners in Kentucky, its opening words are as follows: Come on you good workers/ Good news to you I’ll tell/ Of how the good old union/ Has come in here to dwell./ Which side are you on, boys?/ Which side are you on? And as I read these lyrics, it seemed to me as if the question of the chorus, “Which side are you on?”, was still quite relevant. I don’t mean just in labor relationships between workers and management—I mean in relationships of everybody with everybody as they seem to exist today in America. This is the big question of the day—whose side do you take—whose banner do you wave?
Just a few days ago the world got a graphic example of just how far people will go to prove their allegiance. A man who felt that he was on the side of the white race in Virginia, because he felt threatened, or felt that the race was threatened in some way or another, drove his car into a crowd of protestors, killing at least one and injuring many. Clearly, he showed the country whose side he was on. But he was just one among many, doing the same kind of thing if not in as horrid a way. All along the political and cultural spectrum, people are staking claims, quite sure that theirs is the right way, ready to strike out verbally or physically at any who differ, even to the extremity of violence in the name of their philosophy, or race, or religion, or cause.
Anyone who would wear the name Christian needs very much to be aware of the temptation to become involved in this kind of line drawing. Because frankly, for us, when it all comes down, our line has already been drawn and we don’t have the right to re-draw it. There is only one side for us to claim, because One has claimed us. There is only one allegiance we can ever truly consider ultimate—and that is, to Christ, who must Himself define and determine us by what He did, what He revealed to us of God and God’s will and way, and what He taught us to practice in our lives. No other god, be it a political party or philosophy or race allegiance or national allegiance or even a theology can be allowed precedence over Christ Himself.
In his book, The Listening Life, Adam Mchugh writes this: “We desire for God’s voice to crescendo in our lives, with the competing voices fading away. This means we must ruthlessly silence the calls of other masters…Most importantly, we must let God define Himself. We have to fight the temptation to simply add a couple of God’s songs to our playlist—Jehovah’s greatest hits. We must put away our convenient notions of God—the One who always agrees with us, the One who always favors our nation or political agenda, the One how feeds us candy and never vegetables. Louis Evely put it this way—'[God’s[ language isn’t ours. It isn’t what we expect. Only when we love Him enough to prefer His ways to ours, His language to ours, and His will to ours, only then will we discover Him.’
Reese’s question is ours as well, if for a different situation—which side are we on, God’s in Jesus, or something, anything else? Joshua asked his people the same thing—”Whose side are you on? As for me and mine, we will serve the Lord.” May our answer be always the same as his.
Christ’s love, Pastor Steve.