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Whose Side Are You On? You Have to Choose!

“ARE YOU FOR US OR FOR OUR ENEMIES?” ANSWER: NEITHER Whose side are you on? You have to choose! (I added a clarification at the bottom) Defund police or support police, lock-down or open for business, Trump or Anti-Trump, on and on. Having to choose a side is now a regular occurrence in the world in which we live. There are more and more divisive issues where people feel compelled to choose, because whichever sides they don’t choose, it is assumed they are against that side. What about Christians? Should Christians get sucked into this unending side taking? There is a story in Joshua 5:13: Joshua met a man with his sword drawn. Joshua asked him, “are you for us or for our adversaries?” Isn’t that the question being asked by the various sides? Are you for us or for those against us? The man answered “NO”, neither. He was not for Joshua’s side or his adversaries. He was there as the commander of the Lord’s army.” Immediately Joshua recognized He was the Lord, and worshiped Him. The Lord is not for one side or the other. The Lord has His own plan. He is for His own purpose. Now is the time to recognize the Lord in the midst of the world’s confusion and worship Him. What is the Lord’s purpose? He is for bringing peace to the divided people with hostility toward each other. He died to bring peace not just between humanity and God, but also peace between those separated and hostile toward one another. Christians are to exemplify love and peace for the world to see. If the world sees dissimilar people of divergence, loving one another and are one in Christ, the world will believe in the reality of Jesus Christ. We may think that the recent highlighting of division between black and white people is the worst division in history. However, the division and hostility during the time of Jesus was starker and unimaginable. The Jews and the non-Jews could not even eat together in the same room. The masters can kill their slaves as a right. The Romans and the Barbarians lived worlds apart. It was during such a period that Jesus died to break down all the middle wall of partition and hostilities between people so they can become “one new man”—making peace. This New Man is His Body, His Kingdom, His Bride, which is His ekklesia. Here is the solution to today’s problem and every problem of division: [Col 3:11-15 NET] 11 Here [in the New Man] there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. 14 And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond. 15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. In many cases, Christians today are even more divided than the secular world. In addition to getting sucked into the divisions of this world, they also have doctrinal divisions, divisions over many Christian practices such as holiness and gifts of the Spirit; additionally, there are factions over celebrity pastors/ministers and church identities. It is in the New Man where there is now peace between those previous divided and hostile toward each other. The differences and distinctiveness didn’t get erased; they are still there. However, the hostility and separation are gone. Though different, they can respect, receive, and forgive each other; love one another, because each have been called into the one Body of Christ where there is peace. The New Man is not a matter of conformity or uniformity, but individually distinct, yet one. The diversity of people in Christ shows the beautiful mosaic of His multi-faceted wisdom. Let the peace be the referee, the arbiter, the ruler in all disputes. He is not for any side. He is for His Body where peace reigns. Let’s pray that His peace will bring divided believers together in this divided world. Let Christians with diversity shine the light of peace and unity. It is in this testimony that the world believes, because there is no other eternal solution other than Jesus Christ. This is not just theoretical or spiritual, but very practical. Christians are charged in Romans 16 to proactively go to those they are not familiar or have avoided to greet them, get to know them, have a meal with them, and have fellowship. This is the way to preach the gospel of peace. Not by “preaching”, but by going to make peace one person at a time. Visit those you are uncomfortable with, whichever side that may be. I can testify that my wife and I have been enjoying peace among diversity of people for decades. His peace has kept us open, accepting, and welcoming all kinds of people into our home. We have been going out to stay with people where we would normally not go. Nevertheless, we are still learning because every new person we meet is different in their own right, and we need to continue in our endeavoring to let the peace of Christ rule. Jesus Christ died for every people, tribe, tongue and nation. He died for the blacks, the whites and every color in between. He died for the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the cultured and the uncultured. He loved and died for the entire world. There was not one hint of prejudice in Him. He died for us even when we were His enemies. Only in His love, can we overcome both natural and acquired prejudices. He is not a religion. Religion kills (sometime physically, but always deadens the heart), but Jesus Christ gives life! Grace, mercy and peace to us all, Henry Hon Author of One Ekklesia, One Truth, and One Life & Glory When I say the Lord is for His own purpose and He didn’t choose a side in Joshua’s story, it does not mean He does not have love and sympathy for whichever sides people may identified themselves. Recently, in a fellowship with some believers speaking concerning the situation that happened with George Floyd, I couldn’t help but weep, especially when I was thinking about my sons-in-law and my extended black family members. They have faced racial profiling and other struggles in their lives. I sympathize that “Black Lives Matter” is very personal to their experiences. In no way, am I diminishing their personal journey and others who have suffered prejudices and injustices. Often the problem with “sides” is that it becomes a group identity, and so it carries along other issues, ideas, and politics; therefore, the plight of individuals become buried. While we may be debating merits between opposing sides, real individuals are hurting. Jesus died for people of the entire world, and part of His salvation is to reach into all the divided groups and liberate them into His Body, the New Man. His kingdom, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, is where distinct and diverse individuals can love each other and become one. Satan’s strategy: divide and conquer. This tactic is used in the world, and it has infected believers as a whole. Instead of receiving individuals, we start to label each other as Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. Now, we may reject and judge individuals based on their group association rather than accepting and fellowshipping with each one based solely on the common faith of Jesus Christ. Therefore, people may take sides, and it is their prerogative based on their own reasoning. However, being on the Lord’s side means that we are able to reach individuals in whatever group they have identified, and be kind, forgive, love, and fellowship with them just because Christ loves them, died for them, and desires that each one is liberated into His kingdom.

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