More than once in the past few months I have seen a phrase used by some in attempts to convince others to adopt a particular point of view. The argument includes something such as, “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.” The statement implies that by embracing a certain viewpoint, the individual will be on “the right side of history” and therefore be well thought of or remembered with honor or be “right” in something that matters.
In politics, I wonder sometimes if any side is really on the right or wrong side of history. After all, God has used unjust nations and people to fulfill his will such as when Babylon captured Jerusalem and carried Judah into captivity or Pilate sentenced Jesus to death. God also used righteous and upright people such as Gideon or Esther to carry out his will. It seems that being on the right side of history would mean having God on your side, but that might be more complicated than it appears.
During the Civil War, an advisor to Abraham Lincoln expressed gratitude that God was on the side of the Union. Lincoln is said to have responded, “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.” Perhaps when our opinions are in conflict with others’ opinions, we should look to God and seek his will rather than seek to change someone else’s mind to conform to our way of thinking.
I wonder if many of these arguments might seem less important if we consider this: the only history that really matters has already been written. I’m not saying our actions or lives don’t matter. I mean the victory over sin and death has already been won. The fight for the future – eternity – has already been fought and the outcome decided. One day each of us will stand before God. Jesus describes the final judgment in Matthew 25 as a delineation between two types of people – as obvious as the differences between sheep from goats. The distinctive characteristics are those who do the will of God and those who do not.
Want to be on the right side of history? Care for those around you when you see them in need: feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite strangers in, give clothes as needed, look after the sick, and visit those in prison. Jesus says that when we do these things for the least among us, we do it for and to him. And then he’ll say, “Come you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
To those who do not care for those in need, he’ll say, “Depart from me, you who are cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Not the side of history I want to be on.
Want to be on God’s side? Draw near to God and follow His ways. I encourage you to heed the words of Psalm 139 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”