“God is on my side…” “Don’t worry- with God on your side, you’ve got it made!” “God is for you, not against you!”
These encouragements and others along the same lines grate on me. Songs celebrate how God is ostensibly for us. I get the sense that I should feel great when I finish singing such songs- that superhero confidence should fill me. After all, who wants to fight against God?
But what brought lingering questions when I was younger now brings incredulity. So many people say that God is on their side and do unspeakable things. Certainly, saying that God is for you doesn’t mean that He actually approves of your actions.
I’m coming to a different understanding of this idea, though, and finding some veritable encouragement in the process.*
Let’s pretend for a moment that we have no qualms with the statement, “God is for you.” What would it really mean?
Does it mean that God approves of what you do no matter what because you are special? (I hope not!)
Does it mean that God will go to bat for you, hit your home run, and run the bases for you? (maybe…but don’t expect too many more sports metaphors!)
Does it mean that God is sovereign, knowing what is best for you and the rest of the world that He loves deeply, and will act out of His inherent, unchangeable goodness? (I think we’re getting closer…)
When the idea of God-for-us is blanket comfort, we risk making our own ideas into personal idols. What we imagine as ideal becomes the box for God to work within, and He is unenthused about humanly-designed boxes.
What if God-for-us became less of a get out of jail free card and more of a humbling realization that the God of the universe wants what is best for us?
I see Jesus, working on behalf of the broken people around him. The challenge and joy of being part of His body is evident: giving and receiving grace in brokenness because He makes wholeness possible. Because He is for us, I sit humbled. I have fewer plans for Him to back and open hands for Him to fill.
*This reflects my own changes in thinking over the last ten years, not an accusation or indictment of anyone else. Most likely, everyone else has been living this reality and I’m just late to the party. :)*