Summary: 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A Joshua 24:14-24 & Matthew 25:1-13 Making a choice to serve God for the "long hull" is the most important choice of our lives.
The Choice is Yours… Choose Wisely
One of the greatest abilities that separates humans from the rest of God’s creation is our ability to recognize alternatives, to weigh options and their possible consequences and then to make a informed decision. As we look back over our lives, we’ve made conscious and informed decisions about if and when we’d attend college. About what career path we’d follow. We’ve made decisions about where to seek, or to accept, employment. We’ve made decisions about whom to marry, where to live, cat or dog, whether to rent or purchase, how to prioritize and budget our money and time… and the decisions go on and on! And whatever big decisions we have made in our life, one thing is true – they have formed us to be who are today.
Now, not all decisions are as life changing as education, careers, friends and life partners! Yet, we can’t deny that our daily lives are a series of choices made and then followed through. Some days it is easy to make choices and other days, it’s all I can do to decide if I want unsweet tea or diet Dr Pepper when I stop at Sonic. I’ve often joked with Josh that we should open a restaurant that is called “I Don’t Care, You Decide” – because most nights that is where we’d eat. By the time we get to dinner – we are both tired of making decisions and choices! And yet the options keep coming! Wouldn’t it be great to occasionally have someone else that could step in and make all your decisions… (especially if they always made the RIGHT decisions).
Fretting over making the “right” or the “wise” decision is what makes making choices so exhausting.
From the beginning of Creation, people have had to make decisions. And we haven’t always made wise ones! We all remember Adam and Eve’s decision to go against the will of God – don’t we? Since then - throughout all of earth’s history - people have chosen foolishly. We have made choices that lead us away from God. Choices that are outside of God’s will for us. Choices that go against God’s teaching.
In our Old Testament reading this morning, Joshua looks out at the congregation of Israel. And he sees all the men and women and children of God’s “chosen people” – some of whom have chosen to follow God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their mind and live faithful lives of service to our Lord. But he also sees some who say they have chosen to follow God, but their actions deceive them. And he sees still others who have chosen to lay aside the God who delivered them from slavery, choosing to worship the powerless idols of the peoples of the land. But it is to this combined group of those who have been called to be faithful that Joshua says, “Choose this day for yourselves whom you will serve.”
Choosing who or what we serve is the most important choice in our lives. When we choose to lay aside the gods of the world and serve the Lord, the Creator and Redeemer of the world, then our lives are no longer lived for ourselves. Choosing to serve God changes the way we think and it changes the way we live our lives day in and day out. Choosing to serve God is not a choice to be taken lightly nor is it a choice to be entered into carelessly nor is it a choice to leave up to someone else.
Choosing to follow God is a choice we must each make. And according to one reading of Joshua it is a choice that we make daily.
That has always struck me as odd – the idea that we have to choose God each day. But the more I think about it, the more truth I see in it. Each day I am faced with decisions that I must make based on my commitment to live the life God desires for me. To profess God with my mouth and then betray him with my actions - is not choosing to faithfully serve God.
Making choices is absolutely central to our lives! When you make one choice, it ends the potential of other choices in that particular area. Whenever we say ‘yes’ to something, we are also saying ‘no’ to other possible choices. Saying “yes” to God is saying “no” to all other ideas, philosophies and actions that go against the teachings of Christ.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”