Week of November 6, 2023
15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. 16 Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went and among all the peoples through whom we passed.”
-Joshua 24:15-17 (NRSV)
Joshua gets right to the point, doesn’t he? Joshua meets the Israelites' equivocation regarding God with a very plain question: who will you serve? Joshua’s family has already decided, and now it is your turn. Being a Christian and serving God feels like a personal activity, and though in some ways it is, it is also a family act. We, not I, commit ourselves to Christ and the church in faith and deed. This does complicate things quite a bit, especially in our world of TikTok and YouTube. Leading our spouses and children toward Christ is hard enough without constant competition for time, attention, and memory. Although our memories are sometimes unreliable, our memories can be an incredible help to our faith.
Just as Israel points toward all God had done for them as proof that they worship God to assuage Joshua’s doubts concerning Israel’s fidelity to God, so should we. When things are tough, and suffering and confusion surround us, it feels almost natural to lose faith. We see the various folks around us doing just fine and thriving without concern for God, church, or community. And even though we know it's not true, God seems to be a luxury for them. Because of our short and unreliable memories, our suffering seems to work against us.
This passage in Joshua illustrates the problem perfectly. Scripture invites us to respond to God with faith and commitment to God’s love, but often, we either refuse or fail to remember how God’s grace has shaped our lives, families, and world. We tend to forget how God brought us out of the Egypt of our grief, pain, and anxiety. Instead of being distracted by our current circumstances in such a way that makes us feel isolated from God and the church, Scripture tells us to remember. Remember the healing, relief, and joy God graciously gave us during our last crisis (and all the others before that). God is so great that He does for us even though he has already done so much; all we have to do is remember!
God of deliverance, please strengthen our minds so that we will remember all you have done for us, our neighbors, and the world. Help our family, especially in tough times, remember how much we love each other and that a part of how we show our love for each other is to serve You! Amen!
Question for reflection: Does your family have a “family memory” of God’s work in your lives? Do you all ever reflect on God’s presence in your family? If you imagined your family responding to Joshua in place of Israel, what would your family point to as evidence of your faith in God?