I love going to a good concert. I have been to many concerts and other stage productions, but there are only a handful that I would really say were " A Great Show". We all want to be entertained when we go to a show, and the expectations go even higher when it is a band or a show that you REALLY enjoy. But the bottom line is that we are going to see them perform, we are not witnessing reality. When I went to see Les Miserables off broadway I was blown away. The production and performance were phenomenal. I had been to the theatre many times and had NEVER seen anything like it. Likewise, my absolute favorite live concert is Switchfoot. They are incredible! I expected a great show but they were jaw droppingly good. In a word, "Amazing".
But despite both amazing performances, they were simply that: performances. Those actors and actresses "performed" their roles to a "T", but it is not who they are as individuals. Switchfoot "performed" their music phenomenally that night, but their show is a performance and off stage they become ordinary guys with real world problems like all of us have. Their stage persona is not necessarily who they are on Monday, Tuesday Wednesday etc...
In today's reading we find Israel confronted with Joshua's farewell address. In this address we read a verse that is probably above some of our mantels or on the walls of our homes. It is a verse that is often found in artwork at Christian book stores and one that we like to think about or quote when we talk about our family. Joshua 24:15. But we like to shorten it up a bit so that is looks and sounds a little neater in our context or in our artwork.
"Choose you this day whom you will serve....as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."
Joshua is putting it to the Israelites to make a decision. He is forcing the issue. Drawing a line in the sand. He knows that the nation is prone to wander and I am sure he was fully aware that despite the conquest, they are already drifting.
Scripture says that after Joshua poses this question the nation responds "Far be it from us to forsake the Lord." basically they are saying, 'How could we possibly NOT follow the Lord. We are committed and like you we will serve Him and Him alone. There is no way that we would serve other gods.'
Israel was able to really talk up a good game and I believe that they thought they were really committed and following what God wanted for them. They had just received the promised land, they were riding high and had nothing to fear and had want for nothing. In their answer to Joshua they even retell him some of the things that God had done for them to show Him that they really believed.
Joshua is not buying their story just yet though. He tests this commitment that they are making by phrasing the question one more time in a different way while reminding them that the Lord is a Holy God and that he will not tollerate rebellion and the breaking of the covenant Israel had made with him; and that he would bring disaster on them as he promised. Isarel's reply...
"No! We will serve the Lord."
They emphatically say "No way are we abandoning God, it's just not going to happen. We are committed. Trust us." But it is in this moment that Joshua calls on them to re-evaluate their previous statements. He holds their feet to the fire essentially tells them that the sentiment is nice and the words are appreciated but that is not going to work without action to back it up.
Reading Joshua 24:23 I thought to myself, How could this be. This generation of people saw what happened to their parents in the desert. They saw how God had gone before them and handed the land of promise over to them in decided fashion. For some, they even witnessed the miracles of the Red Sea and deliverance from Egypt, even though they would have been young. But even in spite of all of that, they were still hanging on to the idols and foreign gods of the land.
After repeating themselves that they were committed, Joshua says "That's awesome, now get rid of the foreign gods. Put your money where you mouth is." To their credit they did.
You see, there is a big difference between saying the right words and the actions or acting out of those statements. Many people put on a great show, they know how to perform but the reality is they never leave the stage.
Are you performing right now? Whether it is for other people or for God doesn't really matter; what matters is making sure you have not fallen prey to the lies of the world that are telling you that you are blessed, you are doing all the right things, you don't really need to let go of "that". What "foreign gods" are you hanging onto in your life and asking God to overlook because you gave Him a verbal commitment? Prayerfully ask that the Lord would show you areas of your life that you have been clinging to despite His call for you to lay them down and follow/serve him completely.