It is a natural human tendency to choose up sides. Super Bowl is almost upon us and even if your favorite team didn't make it, chances are you'll choose a side and root for them to win as if they've always been the love of your life. You did it last year and the year before. If you lived 150 years ago, your choice would have been far more consequential.
150 years ago this month, at least according to some historians, the Civil War began. On January 9, 1861, the South fired shots at the Union ship "Star Of The West" which was attempting to deliver supplies to Fort Sumter. The ship was forced to return to New York. This was the first gunfire of the Civil War. We do note, by the way, that other historians say the actual war started in April 1861, when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter. Either way, we sit on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Whichever side you had chosen back then, and perhaps most of the common people felt they had no choice, many preachers would have told you plainly that you were on the same side God had chosen. In the South it was preached that God upheld slavery and so had chosen their side. In the North it was preached that God upheld freedom and so God's helping the North to win would actually help in ushering his Kingdom onto this earth.
But one man who lived then is noted to have said this: "Sir, 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." That man, in his second inaugural address, also said "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. ... The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes." You've probably already guessed that the man quoted is Abraham Lincoln.
We love to choose sides, whether football or war. And we love to be told God is on our side. If you are a Republican, you can find voices proclaiming loud and clear that God is on your side. Meanwhile others note that God is a Democrat. Voices can be found to declare why God has chosen this particular church while turning his back on others, this particular viewpoint while shunning all who believe different. Apparently God roams the earth seeking whose side he can join.
Is it unimportant what we believe and how we choose to live? Of course not! But perhaps there would be more light and less heat in our discussions if we returned to the wisdom of Lincoln. The number one question is not whether or not God has chosen my side.
If, as Lincoln says, God is always right, then only one question remains. Whose side am I on?
Rick Cupp is Minister of the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 Kenai Spur Highway. Sunday Bible Classes are at 10 a.m., Worship at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday worship and Bible classes are at 7 p.m.
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