Links Daily Devotional

Us, or Them?

“Are you for us or for our enemies?” The man replied, “Neither. I come to you as the commander of the Lord’s army.” (Joshua 5:13-14, NIV)

Airports are great for people-watching. Recently, I watched hundreds of unique faces scurry from one gate to another and realized how quickly I make assumptions and segregate people into different categories. I don’t like that I make comparisons, but if we are honest, it’s something we all do.

Categorizing occurs on the PGA and LPGA Tours by players, fans, and even casual bystanders as well. Nationality, status, tour wins, and age are a few of the most common categories. The Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Presidents Cup, and soon the Olympics, provide a ripe field to choose whose side we support based on heritage and loyalty. Categorizing also occurs at our local courses: low handicappers, high handicappers, beginners, 9-holers, men’s day, women’s day.

Joshua had a similar us-versus-them mentality. In Joshua 5, we read how Joshua led the people of Israel across the Jordan and readied them to attack Jericho. Joshua circumcised the sons of Israel, the people prepared and celebrated Passover, they ate of the produce of the land, the daily portion of manna ceased, and anticipation grew for the battle that approached.

We don’t know how many days passed, but one day Joshua looked up and saw a man standing with his sword drawn. Personally, I would have taken a defensive position to a man holding a sword, but not Joshua. He went toward this man and asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” In other words, are you on our side or theirs? The man replied, “Neither. I come to you as commander of the Lord’s army.”

I wonder if Joshua stood frozen for a few seconds digesting how neither was even possible. If God promised Joshua that he would go with him (Joshua 1:5), wouldn’t that put God on Joshua’s side? With one word God disrupted Joshua’s theological reasoning and transcended his categories of us-versus-them.

God doesn’t divide his love. He desires to be in relationship with every person regardless of who they are, what they have done, or where they live. He made this possible through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

When we create categories for others and ourselves, we limit our potential and our field of vision. It’s like looking through a peephole that only holds one narrow view of our own interests rather than God’s broader kingdom, where he desires all people to be saved and know the truth (1 Timothy 2:4 ESV). God as a God of neither means that he doesn’t choose sides between those he has created. Instead, he picks a fight against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

Neither is a word that moves us toward surrender. Surrendering the categories of our us-versus-them thinking opens the door to freedom from comparison, welcomes new possibilities to fresh fruit in God’s kingdom, and makes us more sensitive to the wisdom of God’s Word.

I want to be one who surrenders.

Tracy Hanson
October 30, 2014
Copyright 2014 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.