…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
We live in a day where every idea of God or religion is looked at as acceptable by the vast majority of Western society – every idea, that is, except the conservative Christian idea. I am convinced that this notion that all religions are equal is not based upon a study of them, it is not founded upon an in depth examination or comparison of the various religions. Anyone who would study the great religions would see similarities but also great differences, and he would come to a point of realizing the basic dividing points between them all. Some teachers and authors have sought to combine them all and to say that they are all really saying the same thing – but the adherents of each religion would disagree with this position and quickly say that to hold to such a notion that they are all saying the same thing is to establish a new religion all together.
I believe this idea is founded on nothing more than mental and spiritual laziness – mental laziness because they have not sought out the truth and spiritual laziness because they have not taken a stand for truth. This “new religion” of “no religion” or “all religions” is faith not in a god who is above us and whom we worship and adore and lay down our lives to serve, but it is the worship of the human intellect, the human species itself, the mind of man. We can only worship that which we esteem as greater than ourselves. We may pity something we think is lesser, but we will not and cannot worship it. The idea of worship is founded on the concept of looking up at someone or something that is bigger, greater, more powerful, wiser, better, more noble, finer, and more worthy than us.
The god we humans worship, regardless of what we call him, sits on the throne of our lives and rules our thoughts and actions. “There is no room on the throne of your heart for two gods. It is either Christ or it is the other god,” said Billy Graham. The “other god” goes by many names – our lusts, our pride, our intellect, our whims, our emotions, our feelings, our job, or even our children and our heroes. Today even in some Christian circles there is a movement to accept any sect that uses the name of Jesus Christ, regardless of what they teach about that name. Or in the name of “Christian love” to accept what is unacceptable in the Scripture.
(I am thinking of recent comments by several Christian leaders who have lately responded to the politics of the USA political candidates Obama and Romney, with some saying that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle and others that the Mormon faith is not cultish and should be considered as any other Christian denomination. They are wrong on both accounts. Whereas we should relate to all people with compassion and love, both homosexuality and Mormonism are clearly outside the realm of what the Bible teaches.)
The worship of the God of the Bible sets His character and nature before our minds to consider. We see His love, graciousness, and righteousness and are changed because we believe. We are to give Him our lives to rule over, letting Him be in control – letting Him be behind the steering wheel of our values and choices, letting Him sit on the throne of our hearts and ruling over all our interests. Worship is the recognition of how great He is, and to bow humbly before Him in obedience and commitment. We love others because He is love. We are gentle and kind because He is gentle and kind. But if we pollute the message, the result is a lessened standard and a lessened condition of the human heart.
The words of Joshua have special significance to this generation – they resonate in our souls – for we, like the people of his times, are easily caught up in this mental and spiritual laziness that says the object of faith does not matter, just so long as we believe something and try to live as kindly and nicely as possible. “Choose you this day whom you will serve,” needs to be heard in today’s world, especially in Western society. The heart of the Christian faith is that when we come to God we must choose to follow Him exclusively.
There is an appropriate passiveness to the faiths that people hold when they are ignorant of the Christian gospel. Paul said about the idols that people worship, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance,” and there is a point to leaving many of these questions into the hands of God who always judges rightly (Acts 17:30 and Genesis 18:25). What God will do with a human being who has never heard the gospel of Christ is truly God’s business. The great patriarchs of the faith – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – lived in such a day and spiritual climate, and their faith, though plainly spelled out in Scripture, still retains some mystery as to how they knew what they knew. All we can say is that God found them and they responded in faith to Him and His promises.
But the other half of Paul’s sentence in Acts 17:30 states, “But now he commands all people everywhere to repent,” and however we understand this verse, whether applying universally or individually, it certainly means that once the gospel has been given a fair presentation, then people are held accountable for their choices.
Lately I have seen people posting things on Facebook saying that Christ came to unite us not to divide us, but the words from Christ’s lips are very different: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division” (Luke 12:51). He unites those who believe, but He also separates us from the world. We should always relate to others with graciousness and kindness, serving the world as Christ served the world – even in the face of unbelief and ungraciousness. Freedom to believe or not to believe must be offered to other people, but we must be clear about where our faith lies.
We must choose each day and each night whom we will serve. Will you serve Christ? Then you must begin now by acknowledging Him in your heart.