Scripture Reading: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, we will serve the Lord!’ Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses.’ He said, ‘Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.’ The people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.’ So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. –Joshua 24:19-25
Who can serve the Lord who is holy? Set apart* is the English translation of the word holy. The Hebrew word translated holy could also be translated sacred**. Either suggest the singular, monotheistic nature of God. Thus, if we worship other gods, we are not suited to serve the Lord. God demands that we get and keep our priorities straight.
What compels us to search for other gods particularly after having a long and rich history of relationship with the one true God? Is it a bit of the “what have you done for me recently” attitude? Perhaps it is a desire to test the success of God? We do that all the time with material things as people steeped in the scientific process. I grew disenchanted with my cable system and am experimenting with cutting the cable with mixed results. My changes solved most of the problems I had but created a few new ones. Are we shopping for a god that is just right for us? Raised in a time when marriage was a forever ideal, I watched the change to serial marriage or no marriage at all become the norm. Have we lost the value of lifelong commitments regarding God? Probably it is a little of all of these ideas, which seem to share the common denominator of not being satisfied with ourselves so finding the right god might help us find ourselves. In actuality accepting the love of the one true God and abiding in relationship with the Lord is the source of learning to love ourselves so we can love our neighbors as God loves us.
Prayer: God who is Love, help us to rest ourselves in your abiding loving and never to stray from its blessings. Amen.