College football recruitment has been underway for months, and it has been fun to watch fans react to their team’s successes and failures. Did you know that there is an intricate system for ranking potential players and teams? At the end of the recruitment season, somebody actually comes out as the number one team for commitments. The savvy players have figured out how to use social and conventional media to spin their eventual commitment. I saw an elaborately designed graphic of a player wearing the uniforms of the two schools who were heavily recruiting him. The headline read “Which Will He Choose?” The spin was on.
I can’t imagine the pressure these young eighteen-year-olds feel when making this life-defining choice. It isn’t just about playing a game….this one decision truly sets their academic and professional careers on course for the rest of their lives.
Adulting involves making a lot of choices, doesn’t it? A wrong choice early on can take a long time to correct. Do you regret any of the choices you made in your younger years? I know I do.
But one choice I have never regretted is the choice to follow Jesus. I made this decision at the tender age of eleven when I attended something called a Lay Witness Weekend at my church. It was a weekend of activities, speakers, worship experiences, pot luck suppers (I am Methodist, after all!), and prayer. At the end of the weekend, I walked the aisle and gave my life to the Lord during an altar call. I have never looked back.
In our scripture this morning, Joshua brought the exhausted people of Israel to a place in the Promised Land called Shechem. It was time for them to commit:
Joshua 24 (The Message)
24 1-2 Joshua called together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He called in the elders, chiefs, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God. Then Joshua addressed all the people:
2-6 “This is what God, the God of Israel, says: A long time ago your ancestors, Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor, lived to the east of the River Euphrates. They worshiped other gods. I took your ancestor Abraham from the far side of The River. I led him all over the land of Canaan and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac. Then I gave Isaac Jacob and Esau. I let Esau have the mountains of Seir as home, but Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt. I sent Moses and Aaron. I hit Egypt hard with plagues and then led you out of there. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. You came to the sea, the Egyptians in hot pursuit with chariots and cavalry, to the very edge of the Red Sea!
Joshua presented them with a concise history lesson on their relationship with God, emphasizing God’s saving actions on their behalf. He reminded them that provisions and people were given to them for centuries, and God’s actions on Israel’s behalf brought them to this very spot today.
14 “So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God.
15 “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”
Joshua makes his case very plainly. He is direct and to the point: chose God who saved you, or worship the neighborhood gods. But in any case, CHOOSE.
16 The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods.
17-18 “God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land.
If you recall your Bible history, you will remember that this commitment did not last long. God tried to soothe them with judges and kings, but the people proved to be unmanageable…and eventually, God sent Jesus.
“Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”
Today is a good day to contemplate your own commitment to the Lord. Is HE your God, or do you serve other gods? Is there anything you have put on the throne in his place? Consider how you spend your time, talent, resources, and attention. Do your choices bring you closer to God, or do they have nothing to do with him?
Choose this day whom you will serve.