Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: “If it is displeasing to you to serve the LORD, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods. For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our ancestors up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. He performed those great signs before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” ~Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b (NABRE)
Joshua 24:15 is a verse that we hear a lot all by itself. I’m sure that you’ve heard, or read, it many times before today. Have you ever really stopped to think about it? Why was Joshua making that statement? If you don’t know anything about the book of Joshua you might think that it’s a statement of faith made to somebody who was persecuting him. Or maybe it’s a conversation that he’s having with somebody about the state of somebody else’s household. Instead, we learn that Joshua is actually giving the Israelites the choice. After the passage above, Joshua goes on to warn the Israelites that it’s not going to be easy to serve the God that they are promising to serve. He lets them know that they are going to be judged and if they start worshipping other gods then they are going to be in BIG trouble with the LORD. The Israelites were adamant that they would still worship the Lord. Just like Ace of Base, they too, saw the signs (sorry, I couldn’t help myself…). They personally knew God’s love and mercy because he had brought them and their people up out of slavery and had fed them manna in the desert.
We know that the Israelites were not as good at serving the Lord as they had promised. How do we know that? Because God sent us manna once again, this time in the form of his only begotten son, who was crucified on the cross to pay for our sins. So, in essence, we too have been brought up out of slavery, freed from sin, through the sacrifice of the lamb of God. Some of us have even stood in front of our church families and promised to serve the Lord with our whole heart and soul. Then what happens?
What happens is a lot of us fail. As soon as we leave that church building on Sunday we go back to our daily lives of just trying to survive the day. What gods are you serving on a daily basis? Are you a slave to your job? Do you spend hours playing video games and ignoring everybody else around you? Do you spend hours obsessing over your social media accounts and tracking how many ‘likes’ you received for various posts? Status. Wealth. Influence. Greed. Opinion. All of these are gods that are worshipped by too many people on a daily basis.
Somebody might say that I’m being unfair. They HAVE to work six jobs to make ends meet. Okay, I understand that, but I’m not talking about you if you’re doing it to take care of people you love. However, if you’re doing it because you need the extra money to pay for the mortgage on your vacation home in the Hamptons… I would say that you are worshipping other gods (status, money, appearance, etc). You should be doing all things for God. You should not be doing all things to impress the Godfreys.
I’m not perfect, either. There are times that I find myself being swayed to do something for purely selfish and non-Christ-like reasons. The important thing is that you recognize when you are doing this so that you can stop, ask God for forgiveness and turn back to HIM. Put HIM first. Invite him into more of your day-to-day life and then you will slowly find yourself turning away from the other gods who entice us. In the morning when I’m driving to work is often when I have the best conversations with Jesus. He sits beside me and we just chat about things. Sometimes it’s serious and sometimes it’s a bit light-hearted. The important thing is that he’s there with me. And he’s always there with you, but are you paying attention?
So, who do you serve?