A Current-Day Lesson from Joshua.

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Joshua 5: 13-15 (NIV) Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.


Could it be that Christianity in America is at a crossroads?

Many believe that to be true.

As a follower of Christ for most of my 68+ years, I’ve served Jesus as best I know how. In the 1980’s, I felt a strong invitation from the Lord to serve Him as a pastoral shepherd. I’ve spent much of my last 40 years doing just that.

Like most pastors here in America, I’ve had my ups and downs with doing church. On one hand, there is nothing more rewarding than drawing together a community of believers, coming alongside one another, helping folks grow in their relationship with God, growing closer to Jesus of Nazareth, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform and grow all of us into the image of Christ. Over the last four decades, I’ve been honored to be a part of forming four new churches for those greater purposes of God.

But, there’s also been a negative side, as well.

Sadly, for much of those last forty years, a good portion of the American church, myself included, has allowed itself to become enamored with politics. Now please, don’t get me wrong. Following Jesus of Nazareth into the world of politics is not wrong. As a matter of fact, I believe we are to be actively involved with the society in which we live, working alongside others to build a better world where we can all live, move and have those religious freedoms we so highly value here in America.

But, here’s the rub.

As I see it, much of the Evangelical Protestant church, of which I belong, has taken the call of Christ to be actively involved in our world, and become so consumed with shaping the society into the likeness of God that we’ve actually lost track of the more important commission of Christ to go and simply love.

Today, hatred for our political enemies has permeated the church of Jesus Christ. That hatred not only is demonstrated toward the secular society in which we live, but it also spills out within the Body of Christ as well. The truth is this. If a person don’t subscribe to the party line, holding loyalty to our current President who prides himself in clothing his administration in red, that person is demonized, and quickly dumped into the growing pile of scoffers, sorcerers, and complainers, all destined for hell and damnation.

Now, I must readily confess that there are many who have also experienced, first hand, the wrath of Christians who side with the blue team; those who hold allegiance to the political agendas preached from the other side of the aisle.

All the while, as these arguments rage, those folks outside the church see us fighting, cluck their tongues and draw the logical conclusion that if this is what it means to follow Jesus, we want nothing of it!

Today, in my frustration with all this, I recall a scripture that tells the story of one brave lover of God who had been called to lead his people to the promised land. His name was Joshua.

Joshua was born and raised in the midst of social upheaval. His people’s enemies were real. They were powerful, heartless, controlling and murderous. His spiritual fore-father, Moses had been given the job of bringing God’s people out of this evil land. Many today, see their role in the church as one of Moses or Joshua, individuals called of God to keep the faith pure, delivering them from evil, and raising a standard of righteousness.

But, there’s one interesting text stuck in the middle of this deliverance story that just might have some importance for all of us Christ-followers today.

As Joshua, a man of war, was readying himself for the next battle, he found himself confronted by a very large dude carrying an even larger sword.

Joshua, as any brave army commander would do, immediately approached this guy and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (I’m guessing this was not a polite question, but more of a “who goes there?” kind of warning from Joshua)

But the answer the man gives must have astounded Joshua, just as it should astound us today.

“Neither,” (the man) replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Now, I know this might surprise a few of you, (and it might even disappoint some) but I’d propose that this answer the commander of the Lord’s army gave to Joshua remains the same yet today.

You see, as I see it, Jesus isn’t interested in taking sides in America today.

He’s not interested in helping us build the kingdom of God here in America, making it great again via our human efforts.

He’s not interested in advancing the victorious reign of God at the cost of defeating our perceived enemies.

He’s not interested in wearing a red or blue tie.

He’s not chosen a person he is going to vote for this fall in the election.

He is not blessing one party at the cost of destroying another.

He is not interested in building a church on the backs of those who are oppressed.

He’s only interested in fulfilling the Great Commandment & Commission of…

LOVE. SERVE. CARE. HEAL. RESTORE. RECONCILE. OFFER HOPE. OFFER PEACE.

The list could go on and on, but that’s enough to make the point.

In closing this little editorial, allow me to say that I truly love Joshua’s response here in this story. He didn’t resist. He didn’t argue. He didn’t question, scold, or demean. He simply “fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked (one question), ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?'”

The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

As I see it, you and I are standing on holy ground, my fellow Americans. It’s time for the church to become apolitical, drop our taking of sides, eliminating our drive toward state religion. Blue, red, and purple. Black, white, red, yellow and brown. It’s time to humble ourselves, in Christ’s presence, and pray, asking of Him how we might best respond in a unique time such as this.

May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You.

Marty Boller

5 thoughts on “A Current-Day Lesson from Joshua.

  1. Very god Marty, as a Canadian we are challenged with the same conflict, how involved to be politically yet honour the Lord in our lives. I’m convinced that the partial answer lies in where our hope is. If our hope is in this world and it’s systems we are always going to be divided and disappointed but, if our hope lies in eternity then it brings our focus back to a proper balance.

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  2. Hey Jim. thanks for the good word here. Indeed, it would be wise for all of us to do a reality check every once in a while and ask “where does my hope really lie?” While our good work for Christ can make a difference, the only true hope for real change is found in Christ alone. Keep the faith, brother!

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  3. Pingback: Taking a Stand. | The Contemplative Activist (TCA)

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