2007-07-11 / Religion

'MakeThe Choice!'

by: Rev. Benjamin Miller

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).

Many of us can quote a portion of this passage by heart. In fact, you've probably heard it preached as a Mother's or Father's Day sermon a time or two. What a great testimony it is to stand as Joshua did and proclaim the faithfulness of our respective family. But God's Scripture should never be divorced from its context, especially mid-verse. Joshua is doing a number of things simultaneously in order to prompt faithfulness among the people of God.

First, Joshua calls the people of Israel to be honest about what worship means to them. Specifically, he wants them to decide what God means to them. There is no greater slap to the face of God than to show up in His house for some other reason than to worship Him. There are too many people at services each week who see it as a cumbersome obligation. You can readily identify these people as the ones who quickly abandon their seats to be anywhere else besides church. The people of God have always struggled with a feeling of confinement at worship services. It should not be this way. Yet who does Joshua confront about this attitude? It is not the pastor, the deacons, or the music leaders. It is the people of God. Is it evil for you to serve God today?

Joshua then tells the people to choose between alternatives. The plan of God seems to draw definite lines of demarcation between the world and the church. His people are called to come out and be separate from the dregs of the world. God demands that we make a decision every minute of every day of our lives. Christianity is not a three hour a week (although that might be generous on average) ritual. It is a life-changing experience that is lived out now and in the age to come. There is no mistaking the intentions

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behind the talk of new birth and new creatures. God has liberated us from who we are through Christ Jesus and resurrected us to newness of life. The problem is that folks, like me, are too willing to stand with one foot on both sides of the fence. I want to march towards eternity with my foot firmly planted in the world. God calls us today to make a decision one way or the other. If we choose the world, do it decisively. If we choose God, do not look back. He who places his hands to the plow, looking back is not fit for the kingdom. We cannot have it both ways; which do we choose?

Finally Joshua admonishes the people to choose irrespective of the choices of others. If no one stands with him in the Promised Land, Joshua has made his decision to trust God. So many times we are swayed by the pull of others on our lives. We know what we ought to do, but fear the reproach brought upon us by others. To any teenagers reading this, you are particularly susceptible. Who will we serve in the end? Is your devotion such that you would love God even though no one stood with you? That is what we are called to do individually. Here's a point of good news: We never stand alone for God. Jesus Christ Himself stands with us everywhere we go. What a great assurance that is for all of us today!

Dear reader, make your choice about God. Do not put off the day of grace, for it may never return to you. Choose today who you will serve. Then, serve!

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