When God Is Not On Your Side

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July 5, 2017
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July 24, 2017

When God Is Not On Your Side:

Exploring Spiritual Narcissism

By Pastor Vinnie MacIsaac 

 

“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” The Mayo Clinic definition of Narcissism[1]

Denver clinical psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D. (link is external), a graduate of Harvard with a doctorate from NYU

Doctor Susan Heitler in her article titled,”Are You a Narcissist?”[2] for the renowned journal Psychology Today, identified six sure signs you are actually a Narcissist. In brief review they are;

  1. Unilateral listening

  2. It’s all about me

  3. The rules don’t apply to me

  4. Your concerns are really criticisms of me, and I hate being criticized

  5. I’m right.  You’re wrong.  So when things go wrong between us, it’s always your fault

  6. I may be quick to anger, but when I get angry, it’s because of you . . .

Do Christians generally suffer from any of these conditions? Maybe at times as individuals, we do and maybe at other occasions, even worse, it’s collective. A modified list for the church might go something like this:

  1. I am the preacher, and you’re the student. You listen to what I say.

  2. It’s all about me, and God loves me and my kind more than you and your kind

  3. The rules don’t apply to me; I just apply them to others

  4. Your lifestyle is really criticisms of what I believe, and I will defend myself against how you live.

  5. I’m right.  You’re wrong.  The Bible says so

  6. I may be quick to anger but is it Holy anger because you are sinful

It is so easy to think that we are in the right because we have the One who is right and the rest of the world is wrong because they don’t. That is what I love about Joshua chapter five; it totally brings us to this summit. No one could be more in the right than Israel, “God’s very chosen vessel,” to drive out the Amorites, Moabites, Midianites, Amalekites, and Philistines from the promise-land. The lines could not have been more clear. On one side was Israel and on the other side the pagan and heathen nations filled with deplorable sin and debauchery that had to be driven from the land at all cost.

Israel had quite honestly “arrived” at the borders of the promise land, with new circumcisions healing, and no need for manna because the produce of the land satisfied their bellies. So it was now Joshua’s turn at having a “burning bush” type experience to forge what would be his true direction as a leader.

As he reaches Jericho, he knows he must lead out the warfare and with that, on his mind, he turns and sees a mighty warrior standing in the road right beside him. The warrior is powerful and posed; ready for battle But the question remains, battle with whom? Was this warrior meeting him on the road to pledge his loyalty and desire to fight with the armies of Israel or was this warrior en route from Jericho to head them off? All Joshua knew was that this mighty man had no fear and had his sword drawn, ready to go.

Joshua took the wise path and simply asked, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” That is to say, “Are you on the side of the angels or hell?”, “Do you side with my enemies or me?” In short, “Are you on the right side or the wrong side?”

While Joshua may have had every right and wisdom to ask that question, we don’t always have the same spiritual standing as Joshua when we ask it. For Joshua, the answer that would come was a test. So the question I have for us is, are we ready for the testing answer? Will, what we decide to do with the answer of the Mighty Warrior in our path, forge all our future directions?

“Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”

“No!” Was the quick answer shot back! Or as some translations put it, “Neither!” was the Mighty Warrior’s answer that beckoned back from heaven.

The expanded answer might be fleshed out more like this; “No. I am not on your side. No. I can’t be on your side because your people claim to be all hallowed and pious, but we saw your people worship the golden calf the second Moses turned his back! All heaven heard you cry for quail while we offered you food from heaven, and your rebellion once reached to the point where we opened the ground and swallowed some of your people up!

“But no, we are also not on their side either! We can’t be for the Philistines of Jericho because we have decided to evict them. We reject all their false worship, idols, and temple prostitution because they reject our laws, ways, and instructions for which their ancestors once knew too! You may be sinners, but you have not passed the point of no return like these people. Still, this does not mean we are for you because we wish you both to be saved.”

In essence, this Might Warrior from Heaven says, how dare you even ask the question, I am not on your side, and I am not on their side, I am on the LORD Yahweh’s side!

Then he said, “No; but I am The Commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” Joshua 5:14[3]

How black and white we get because our love is so darkened, in God’s eyes, for compassion. We assume our sins have no stink, but our adversaries must be wiped off the face of the earth with no chance of salvation because of the foul stench of their transgressions. But God has those in Jericho whom he is still going to redeem[4], and Israel already knew this.[5]

Maybe the lesson Christians need to take to heart is really this; God takes no sides! But you can take His side.

Maybe the lesson Christians need to take to heart is really this; God takes no sides! But you can take His side. Maybe our sinful self- bent fixation makes us want to re-imagine God in our image rather than be transformed to His? Perhaps, unless we join God’s team and leave room on the team bus even for our enemies, if they choose to get on, it might well be us that faces the drawn sword of the LORD God Yahweh’s Mighty Commander of Holy War.

What The Commander the Army of the Heaven says was a real wake up call to me when I was doing my devotional reading of this chapter the other day. He tells Joshua to stop guessing what side God is on and to get his shoes off and to stop trampling Holy Ground of privilege!

You see, whenever we assume our enemies are those whom God hates we are trampling Holy Ground because it is ground that belongs to God alone!

It is ground with a gigantic “Keep off the Grass” sign on it. It is a spiritual no trespassing zone!

In my opinion, what makes Joshua a better leader than us is he does not fight this idea when he hears it. He quickly falls to his face and cries our “What do I do!”

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. (Joshua 5:14-15)

Joshua did so. Joshua changed sides. Joshua was a good leader. Had he not switched sides I am convinced the Holy Commander of the Army of the Lord may have slain him where he stood if not all of Israel even.

Stop trying to get God to join “Team You” and take off your shoes and humble yourself and join “Team God.” So much time, effort money and talent is wasted attacking enemies whom God actually loves and who he may still yet redeem a portion of and use them to finish his work. Jesus died for sinners, even sinners who hate you because they hated Him first.

What do you do when God is not on your side? Stop practicing Spiritual Narcissism! Get your shoes off, drop to your knees and join His team! The commander of the Armies of Heaven is waiting in the road way. Look up and see him as Joshua did!


Footnotes:

[1]http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201210/are-you-narcissist-6-sure-signs-narcissism

[3] It is worthy to compare this passage to Revelation 12:7-8

[4] See Joshua 2 for the introduction of Rahab and her family whom will be saved and added to the lineage of Christ.

[5] See my article “From Harlot to Holy.”

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