My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right. (Abraham Lincoln)
I often look to President Lincoln for wisdom. I’m sure it is partially because he was a Presbyterian. However, and far more importantly, he oversaw one of the most difficult and tumultuous times in our nation’s history.
Lest we forget, slavery was legal. As was segregation. As was discrimination on the basis of sex. As are so many other things that cause harm to brothers and sisters in our midst even to this very day. Legality is not a way to judge our ethics or morals – contrary to what has always been a very popular opinion.
Far too often in this world we paint a picture of God that looks very much like ourselves, our motives, our ambitions, our agendas. And because the scriptures are so diverse, it is quite simple to find passages to support nearly anything we want. We use scripture as a weapon and God as our ultimate upper hand.
All of us are guilty of this sin – as individuals, communities, and as part of even greater bodies.
And yes, it is sin because it breaks our relationships with God, with one another, and with ourselves.
How do we proceed then once we have realized that God is so much bigger than any picture we can paint and so dazzlingly different than all of our prejudices, hatred, desires for domination?
We go back to our center: Christ.
If we want to know who God really is and on who’s side God stands, there is no better way than to read deeply of the gospels and learn from what Jesus (God’s living Word made flesh) said, did, and lived. For those who would follow Christ, all other texts within the scriptures should be read and tested through this single lens.
What will we find? Jesus standing with the oppressed. Helping those in danger. Raising the dead and the sick (who were “untouchables” by his own religion’s legal designation). Teaching and commissioning women as leaders. Welcoming children. Empowering the outcasts to change the world. Reaching out to hated foreigners. Feeding the hungry. Opening the eyes of the blind. Prophesying of God’s discontent with all who give into the evil within their hearts. Preaching justice. Making love the ultimate commandment upon which all other things hang.
So on which side will God stand? With those whom God loves most. And the easiest way to tell who those people are is this: if we create a dividing line for seemingly “religious,” “moral,” or sometimes even “legal” reasons that casts someone out – we will find our Lord with them. And our God, as always, will be right.