14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, 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 to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled.18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”
Joshua is at the end of his life and leadership over Israel. He summons all the tribes, elders, judges and officials – the people and their leaders, to be presented to the Lord. Joshua shares words from God recalling what God has done for his people. But now, as they bridge one chapter of history with what will come, Joshua asks the people to make a choice. Choose God or choose another. Make a decision. But Joshua says, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
When young people come to be baptized, they make a choice. Same for confirmation, or new members joining the church. We choose, affirming that we believe in God, Father of our savior Jesus Christ, and that we trust in Jesus to find forgiveness, grace, and the promise of eternal life. We invite God to take up residence within us through the work of the Holy Spirit, to guide us to follow in God’s ways. No, we’re not perfect, but then, neither were the people of Israel. They failed time and again, as we do also.
But what is most meaningful for me is that we make a decision of faith, because that is stepping over the line, marking a separation from what was the before and what will come after. I will never step back into unbelief, even if I cannot live up to my expectations. I falter but then I try again, keeping my eyes focused on Jesus who is our model in faith and ethics.
This was a powerful moment for the people of Israel. Choosing faith is meaningful for us too. When we remember what decision we made, we may again choose to follow the Lord, no matter how far we may have strayed. That’s the promise we have in Jesus Christ.
Lord, I pray for those who have never known you, or who have never believed in your goodness and salvation in Jesus Christ. I pray for those who are going through difficult circumstances, and have forgotten how to call upon you for help and guidance. Bring us back to the joy when we first came to know you and love you. Restore us and strengthen us, to the glory of your name, in Jesus Christ our savior. Amen.