Near the end of his life, Joshua summons the people of Israel to Shechem, recounts for them once again all the miraculous things God has done to give them this land and all the commands He gave them which they must obey to retain it. Then he challenges them to make a choice and declare their allegiance: “Which will you worship—the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.”
When the people quickly agreed, he challenged them further, essentially daring them to try. And the people passionately respond that they will worship the Lord God.
But when Joshua challenges them again and says, “Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel,” they don’t admit to having foreign gods, nor do they commit to get rid of them. Instead, they say, “We will worship the Lord our God and obey Him.”
Maybe that statement was meant to sincerely convey complete submission and obedience, but I find it significant that they didn’t mention getting rid of their foreign gods. They didn’t even say, “We will ONLY worship the Lord our God.”
In similar fashion, we are tempted today to put Him on the mantle right alongside all our other gods. As long as He doesn’t get in the way of our pursuit of money, fame, beauty, power, or entertainment, we’re happy to worship Him. But we aren’t willing to clear the shelf and let God be the center of our universe, the One around whom everything in our lives revolves.
As Joshua warned the Israelites, He is a jealous God. He is not interested in being one of many loves of our life, any more than our spouse would care to be one of many.
What have you given a place of honor beside Christ that needs to go? What idols do you need to smash for good?