To serve or not to serve — choosing your god for today

Joshua 23-24


Did you know you can decide, on a moment-to-moment basis, who you’d like to worship?

In the United States, where religion has always been a grab bag, that claim seems ridiculous — more so recently than historically — and religion at large isn’t really a big deal here.

Most people in this country would say they don’t really worship anything, or that they have their own form of religion or god that they pay homage to when it’s convenient (Easter, Christmas, deathbed — name your occasion).

And if that’s the case, it’s your own thing.


I should make it obvious to the reader that I’m a Christian — I worship the Lord, who represents Himself in three forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I recognize that God deserves my attention because Jesus (aka “the Son”) sacrificed Himself, willingly, because God wanted to make salvation an open-door policy, and I think that’s a pretty good reason to worship Him, along with some other reasons. This decision has propelled much of how I live and what I do with my time.

However, there are plenty of other very appealing gods to serve. Over the course of the week, I’ve been quite the polytheist.  I’ve served the gods Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix.  There’s also a very convincing god called Self that I love to sacrifice to, but it seems like that god is never satisfied. Regardless, moment to moment, I certainly have a selection to choose from.

In the reading, Joshua gives some compelling reasons to worship God, namely His faithfulness through Israel’s journey and His natural sovereignty.  He implores Israel to serve the Lord, and to serve Him with their whole hearts or face inevitable consequences.  However, a surprising statement pours forth near the end of Joshua’s discourse:

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 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.”

This passage might be familiar because Christian bookstores sell framed typography versions of it, and Christians love to emblazon it on their walls as a proclamation of their unwavering faith. “As for me and my house,” we say, “we will serve the Lord.”

The Israelites desperately insist, after Joshua’s statement, that they will serve God, but Joshua responds with seeming uncertainty that they’ll really follow through. Is he on to something? (read Judges for the answer to that question)

Even though we proclaim we’re Christians, through framed adages or church attendance, we still have a moment-to-moment decision to make whether we’ll serve the Lord or not. Indeed, if we have sincerely made Jesus our Lord, the compulsion to worship the God of the Bible is stronger than otherwise.

You might know for certain that it is the Lord that has preserved you, that He makes your paths straight and pours out His love for you daily, both presently and as written and demonstrated by His death and resurrection.  However, it doesn’t matter how many verses you have framed on your walls or how many times you’ve warmed up a Sunday seat.  You still have a choice to make.

I can tell you right now that it’s better to serve the Lord. I’ve stood on both sides, and I know the difference. I can also tell you that the ability to decide whether or not to serve God is a privilege; a supreme omniscient God has both the right and the ability to suppress His creation and force daily worship on His terms. It’s good to know you’re allowed to decide.

Nonetheless, choose for yourselves who you’ll serve. It might seem evil to you to serve God.  A lot of people think so — at least, the version of God that people present — and they’ve made their decision. But you still have a choice, right now, whether or not to serve Him. I encourage you today to choose wisely.

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