Joshua 24:1-28

I don’t know whether you like playing sport, because I never did. And one of the reasons was that at school I was tall, and perhaps a little bit clumsy, and was never very good at it. Indeed, one school report I received, had this comment regarding Games: “Brian has outgrown his strength and ability.”

Now you might think that that wasn’t a very nice thing to say. And you’re probably right. But that sort of comment didn’t worry me at all. Indeed, I was proud of it.

But do you know what it was that I hated most? It was picking sides. Because I knew who it was who would be last to be picked. Which is why I’d like to tell you a story about a football match. And the story begins, funnily enough, with the picking of sides.

*****

It was time for the annual football competition, and as usual the two leaders were selecting their teams in the old tried and true tradition.

“I’ll pick Sandra,” said Harry.

“Yes, and I’ll pick John,” said Joan.

And for the next ten minutes the crowd of players was whittled down, one by one, until no-one was left. The players were then given their jumpers, so the teams could be told apart. They were reversible jumpers—with blue on one side and green on the other.

“Blue for my team,” said Harry.

‘And green for mine,” said Joan.

Then, after putting on their jumpers, they ran onto the ground, floated around for a little sorting out positions, and then the game got underway.

“Come on blues,” could be heard from the boundary line. “Come on greens.” And for a while everything seemed to be fine. Indeed, there was a goal scored at one end, and then there was a goal scored at the other. And it was like the sides were evenly matched. But then something happened, because the game began to swing in the blue’s favour.

Now Joan, the captain of the green team couldn’t quite work out what. But then she was sure that she’d just been tackled by a player she’d picked for her own team. But not wishing to cause a fuss, she just shook her head—thought she was mistaken—and continued with the game.

But then it happened again. This time, she saw someone she knew she had picked for the green team, but they were wearing the colours of the blue. And bit by bit, it seemed that the blue team was getting more players, and the green team less.

Now, no-one had left the field, and no-one had got on since the game had begun.

“They must be turning their jumpers around,” thought Joan. “They must be swapping sides.” And, do you know, they were.

Now at that point, the game came to a complete stop. They then counted the players. And the blue team had twice the number of players of the green. So, the captains called the players together, and asked them whose side they were really on.

“Are you on my side or their side?” said Harry.

“Are you on mine?” said Joan. “Are you with me or not?”

Only when they had sorted out their teams did the game restart. But by the end of the game, the blue team were victorious. And boy, were they excited? But then they should have been. After all, when the final whistle came, I am sure that there were an extra couple of players on the blue time and a few short on the green.

*****

Now, of course, that is not the right way to play football, or any other game come to that. And I’m sure that if you were picked for a team, that you wouldn’t swap sides half way through a match. Would you? No, that’s not the way it should work at all.

But you know in life, that sort of things happens all the time. Because people tend to live their life on one side, and bit by bit they drift over to the other.

And that’s the problem that Joshua faced when leading the Israelites. Because, Joshua was the captain of God’s team. And the people started on his side, and then they wandered off. They thought things might be better doing things a different way. And that is why Joshua too had to stand up and ask them, “Whose side are you on?”

Now at the time, the people answered, “We’re on God’s side.” Hooray! But you know, they only stayed for a while, and then they were off again. But that’s what people tend to be like.

But you’re not like that, are you? You wouldn’t start on one side and end up on another? You wouldn’t start on the green team and end up on the blue? You’d stick to the same team, wouldn’t you?

And, I hope that is true of staying on God’s side too.

Posted: 19th October 2018
© 2018, Brian A Curtis
www.brianacurtis.com.au

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