~ Choose Whom You Will Serve ~
Joshua was quite clear and aggressive in his demand to the Israelites: "...serve the Lord, but if you don't want to worship the Lord, then choose right now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you're living on land that once belonged to the Ammonites, maybe you'll worship their gods." (Joshua 24:15)
After Moses died, Joshua became one of Israel's leaders, and as such, he challenged them: Take a stand! Commit yourself! If you won't worship God, at least worship something! Jesus made a similar challenge to the Laodiceans: "Because you are lukewarm, neither cold or hot, I will spit you out of my mouth!" (Revelation 3:16) Joshua concluded his challenge with this declaration: "As for me, my family and I will worship and obey the Lord!" (Joshua 24:15b)
Being hot, on fire, for God has its risks to the soul that is lukewarm. It is safer to be politically correct , to be ecumenical, to be inclusive and tolerant. But most don't realize you cannot be inclusive and tolerant at the same time because tolerant means you disagree and reject the premise or view of the other, but will tolerate or put up with it to keep the peace. So you cannot embrace or accept something which you are also tolerating.
Jesus and His spokespersons tell us to take a stand and put on the heat! Then He tells us to spread the good news of His redemption and love throughout the whole world. If you are His follower, if you are His, if you call yourself a Christian, you are ordered to be hot on the Gospel. The Great Commission isn't a nice suggestion or a special calling for a select few. It is God's will for all of us.
However, please consider how wondrous and safe the will of God is. Some people are called by God to venture into dangerous territory, to become very vulnerable to getting hurt, from their limited perspective. Their "natural mind" raises all kinds of objections: "How could you think of putting your family in that position? How can you know that it's God's will for you?" But God always has "le grande image." When you work, travel, live in His will, all the mighty resources and powers of the kingdom of God are yours and God is your fortress and protector. You would be safer, more protected, more blessed and more guided in the middle of a city under gunfire working and living there in God's will than you would be eating a fine meal in a quaint country village restaurant out of God's will or in defiance of His will.
Everyone with any spiritual awareness must sometime deal directly with the question of whom he or she will serve. Jesus said we can't serve two masters. Joshua said to choose one. Serving whom we choose is done through the hundreds of many little choices we make throughout the day. And God enables us through a mysterious gift called grace.
Grace and God's will flow together in harmony just as a canoe harmonizes with the river as if flows effortlessly with it. The canoer will gain distance on the river as long as the canoe is kept pointed in the right direction: the way and will of the river. So it is with grace. Jesus said to "seek first the kingdom and all else will be added to you." He did not say, "First find the kingdom and all else will be added to you." It is in the seeking that grace is bestowed. As the canoer paddles through the river, the power and flow of the river is added juice which speeds up travel and efficiency. An unearned gift from the river. Grace.
We are to practice love, forgiveness, faith, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines and requirements of God. But grace stands alone as a simple mystery in that there is nothing we can do to get more of it. Grace is God's "unmerited favor." God's essential goodness. And we cannot "outgive" God: "Give and it shall be given to you, in good measure, packed down, shaken together and spilling over into your lap." (Luke 6:38)
Luke 15 records Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. I mention this only to note a critical aspect of the father's reaction upon seeing his son, still far away, coming home. The father ran to his son, not waiting for the son to even complete his journey home. That is grace! Again, Jesus told us to just seek, head towards the Father's house and the Father will rush to meet us and endow us with abundant grace.
Though we cannot earn grace, we can certainly pray for it. Paul instructs, "Whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness [grace], and we will find help." (Hebrews 4:16)
As we live consciously and prayerfully, each day, in the will of our Lord, we will be guided, protected and propelled forward by His grace. And yes, we can know God's will just as we can "do all things through Christ," by asking. "People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of judgments, but they cannot be judged by others. The Scriptures ask, 'Has anyone ever known the thoughts of the Lord or given Him advice?' But we have the mind of Christ. [We understand what Christ is thinking.]" (1 Corinthians 2:15-16)
A person in the will and grace of God cannot be harmed or taken off the path God has created for him or her. That person proceeds unhindered with his ear always tuned to the "still, small voice" of the Lord's. He knows satan does not live in or rules in hell. That is only the final destiny of evil. Satan lives in thrives in the realms of the earth and sky as prince. "But still, I want you to understand what is good and not have anything to do with evil. Then God, who gives peace, will soon crush satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you! Amen." (Romans 16:19b-20)
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © February 3, 2001
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