Summary: God’s commitment to us in the cross of Christ enables us to live committed lives to him on an everyday basis
In 1876 France wanted to honor the United States and the 100th Anniversary of the Revolutionary War and birth of the nation. The gift that was decided upon was the Statue of Liberty. Originally it was meant to symbolize the relationship between the two countries. The statue has now come to be the most recognized symbol of liberty and democracy in the world.
Over three thousand years ago, the people of Israel entered into the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua son of Nun. Joshua challenged the people of Israel to put away all of their idols and commit themselves to serve the Lord their God. The people agreed to this pledge and Joshua erected a stone monument to remind the people and future generations of this commitment. One can imagine young children asking their parents what the stone was there for, just like children ask their parents about the Statue of Liberty.
BLESSED BY GOD
The people of Israel were entering a new chapter in their life together. Forty years previously, God had acted through Moses and miraculously lead them out of slavery in Egypt. The Red Sea parted, the Egyptian army was defeated, they never hungered, they were never thirsty, and their clothes and sandals never wore out. God cared from them abundantly.
When the people of Israel entered the Promised Land to subdue it, the Lord went before them and defeated their enemies. The walls of Jericho collapsed. Larger armies were defeated. God blessed them with an abundant and beautiful land.
Certainly God did not stop blessing people once the people of Israel occupied the Promised Land. God has richly blessed us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven, we have a new relationship with God, we have a purpose for living and we have the assurance of God’s presence and power in our lives. God has poured out his blessings upon us.
In response to what God has done, God asks us to love God in return.
God’s love is overwhelming and at times we don’t know how to properly respond to God’s love and abundant blessings. This story of Joshua and the people of Israel gives us some ideas as to the shape of our response.
The people of Israel committed themselves to honoring God. In the apostle Paul’s words, this would be, “To live a life worthy of the Lord fully pleasing to him” (Col. 1:10). Such a life would include following the teachings of Scripture, but it would expand to include being obedient to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit.
The people made a commitment to serve God. They understood that their lives were not their own. Rather, they were living in order to give of their time and talents to serve God. Jesus expanded this idea of serving God to that of serving one’s neighbor. Christians love God not just by going to worship on Sunday, but also by sharing the gospel in word and deed with those around them.
The people made the commitment to put away all false idols. Martin Luther wrote that an idol is anything we place our hope and trust in. The commitment that God invites us to make is to look to God as the only one who can give us the security that we crave, and who will protect us and provide for us.