It is a commonly known fact that people in the ancient world believed there were many gods. In early biblical history, each nation was thought to have its own god, whom they worshipped and upon whom they depended for the necessities of life.
This ancient theology is generally thought to be obsolete. In our modern, more enlightened age, we now believe in only one God, who is creator and sustainer of all things. But whether or not that conclusion is true depends upon how we are using the word, God. If we are speaking of our theological theory, then it is true that we believe in only one God. If, however, we are speaking of that factor in life which we truly serve and worship, that something or someone to which we give our devotion, then it is obvious that we have more than one God in our life. We may no longer use that ancient vocabulary, but we do worship and serve many different gods.
If we keep that thought in mind, then I would like us to turn to a passage in the Old Testament from the Book of Joshua. In this passage, Moses was dead, and Joshua had assumed leadership of the people of Israel. It was now time to lead the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. But before doing that, Joshua called the people together and addressed them with these words: “Decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
One of the deepest truths about our human life is that we must give ourselves to something; we must belong to something; we must have gods. We all have our own personal servants – modern conveniences such as cars, TVs, computers, electric lights and vacations. These things are nice to have, but all the conveniences in the world cannot make life worth living unless the one we serve is God Himself. Each of us is faced with a forced decision. We will have to choose gods; that is inevitable. Our only option is in choosing whom or what our gods will be. So, the challenge of Joshua is just as relevant today as it was the day it was spoken: “Decide today whom you will serve.”
But remember that the supreme difference between the one true God and Father of us all and the many false gods out there is this: devotion to the one true God pulls everything in life together; devotion to a false god tears it apart.
Long ago, Joshua made a decision which has stood the test of time, and is still the wisest choice for every person: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” What about you?