Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Whose Side is God On?
In a recent correspondence, I was asked a question that I know many of us have struggled with, and not only in the context of divorce, though that was the context of our discussion. The question was one the writer struggled with in the midst of a difficult divorce, since both parties are confessing Christians. The question (in my edited wording) was: Since we are both Christian, in the hassles of the divorce, sometimes I just wonder whose side is God on?
It is certainly a difficult, and confusing thing, to be in the process of divorce from someone whose belief system also is one that speaks of seeking God’s will, honoring his commands, including the belief in God’s ordained plan for the covenant of marriage.
Perhaps each partner is pursuing what they believe God is leading him or her to do. And yet, in the course of the twisted process called divorce, they find themselves at odds with one another over multiple choices of the right course of action. When one is convinced that he or she is sincerely doing their best to do what is right, that individual longs for vindication for pursuing what is believed to be the right thing...and gets very discouraged when the courts rule against them, leaving one to wonder what ever became of justice. And the old biblical question arises, “why do the wicked prosper?” Especially when the partner asking the question knows he or she has been honest in their disclosures and statements while the ex has been hiding assets and information.
Whose side is God on?
As I said at the beginning, the question has been asked in many contexts over the years. Think of the churches that have split over various issues, with each side convinced they are following the correct leading and teaching of the Lord. Whose side is God on in those situations? Wars, politics, social debates…the examples go on and on.
My response? Well, some of the kinds of things I suggested are that God is always on the side of each of us…that is, God is FOR us, not against us. He desires the best for each of us, the best as he knows what is actually truly best. He desires that we can be freed from the things that hold us back and keep us from being all that he designed us to become. He longs for us to grow in righteousness, and reflect more fully the image of God in our lives. So even in the midst of a divorce, there is a sense in which God is on the side of each of us, that his desire is for us to be part of his family for ever and ever. It is Satan who is the one who is against us.
That being said, however, God does not choose to force us to respond to him as he desires. He beckons, he nudges, he leads…but our decisions are also involved in the process. While he is on our side, that is not the same as saying that God is on our side of a dispute between individuals. When it comes to divorce, I suspect that God would be on the side of reconciliation, repentance, forgiveness, genuine godly and humble love, and marriage that is “till death do us part”…but I am not convinced that it would be for a one sided reconciliation where the abused ignores the abuse and re-enters a marriage that is no marriage at all, or to re-enter a marriage in which one partner is committed to the marriage while the other is out breaking the vows night after night in adulterous relationships.
God is on the side of genuine committed and loving marriages, and his desire would be that our marriages would be moving to greater and greater depths of that kind of relationship.
In the course of the disputes of a divorce, whose side is God on? I think it should also be added that God is on the side of truth, the side of righteousness, the side of love, the side of forgiveness, the side of humility. In other words, God is always on the side of godly characteristics. And sometimes, in the proceedings, the choices we make reflect those characteristics, and God would be pleased with those choices…whether or not they result in success in the courtroom.
Probably the most important answer to this question would be to remember the words of Abraham Lincoln. The Civil War in the United States had Christian people on both sides, each fighting tooth and nail for what they believed was right, and praying to the same God for victory. When asked whose side God was on, Abraham’s reply was one that could also be easily applied to the question I was asked in the context of divorce-
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.
So, as much as we may desire that God is on our side against the perceived injustices and evils that pile up against us, the more important issue is that which Lincoln refers to:
as you make the choices you make, do you choose to be on God’s side?