Joshua 5:13-14 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?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
This extremely dramatic scene is justly famous, but we mustn’t lose sight of the meaning for the drama. Like Joshua, we want to know if people, and even God, are “on our side.” However, the question we need to be asking is whether we are on God’s side, agreeing with Him. Human beings have a strong penchant for taking sides, for being at odds with one another. That is certainly evident in the US right now, with the nation badly divided. Paul said that sometimes divisions are necessary simply to show who is right, (1 Corinthians 11:19) but in general he pushed hard for unity. However, that unity must come because we together agree with God, rather than forcing others to agree with us. It’s not at all that there aren’t right and wrong, black and white, but rather that we must recognize what God says those are, instead of trying to decide them on our own. That’s why so many people are trying to discount and or twist the Bible, because they don’t agree with the standards and principles laid down in it, and they want their opinion to be the standard. It doesn’t work that way! We are to seek the unity of the Spirit, (Ephesians 4:3) submitting our own ideas and wills to Him and genuinely allowing Jesus to be Lord in every detail of our lives. Two people who are following the same Lord will have a high degree of unity in the things that matter, whatever differences they might have.
I have long been disturbed by Christians who seemed more loyal to their denomination than they were to Christ. That’s one of the biggest reasons we are an independent non-denominational church. However, we have brothers and sisters in a wide variety of denominations. Any time we get it straight that we are part of one army and stop worrying about who outranks whom, we start recognizing and listening to our Commander. That applies to every level of human interaction. Marriage is particularly on my mind, since today is our 51st wedding anniversary. God has laid out order in the home, as expressed in Ephesians 5:21-33, but if husband and wife are to have true unity they must both be submitted to the same Lord, in order to be one in Him. There are a lot of protests about “headship” and “submission,” but they all miss the point of mutual submission to Christ. It’s not a matter of who’s “right” or who’s “wrong,” but rather of whether we submit together to Christ. As I point out to couples, it’s harder to love your spouse as Christ loved the Church than it is to submit to them! I am to seek unity, with my wife and with others, on the basis of agreeing with Jesus, rather than them agreeing with me.
Father, this is an issue in every life, I think. Help me not run around accusing others, but rather focus in on hearing and obeying You myself. Thank You for the helper suitable for me that You gave me 51 years ago. May the unity we display draw others into unity with You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!