I grew up in a home in which there was a plaque. Funny how I can’t remember where exactly it was: the living room mantelpiece, the entrance hallway wall, the kitchen… I just cant’ remember! I guess that was because it felt like it was in all spaces, all places.
It was the words of Joshua as he bid his final farewells to the people of God he had lead into the promised land. Here he implores them to continue to faithfully obey God. That as they continue to live among godless people they must stand firm and faithful.
In reality, he doubts their capacity to do so, and in fact this skepticism is proven sound. Yet, as he implores them to remain committed he expresses his own commitment to do the same with the words found throughout my home: “As for me and my house – we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:10
This profound declaration – modeled by the family in which I grew up and the Mt Gambier Baptist Church in which my faith was formed, has shaped me deeply.
From as early as I remember it has helped define my priorities and determine my actions. It has been significant for our marriage and the choices we have made about being family and it was determinative in me following the path into vocational paid Christian ministry.
But it is also fitting for today. As we commence a new year and settle into the familiar routines, having failed in our New Years resolutions and slipped back into bad habits. It is good and right to consider this challenge afresh.
However, this challenge is secondary to, and in fact responsive to, something far more profound. In fact, all of our Christian lives and all that we do in and as a Church is secondary to something far more momentous and compelling. And that is God’s commitment to us!
Jesus’ final words while on earth finished with the remarkable promise: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt.28:20b)
Paul encourages us in Romans when wrestling with the challenge that death brings that “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Rom.8:29b. For, as he tells us in 1 Cor.15:57 He, that is God, gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
As we commence this new year, surely it is this truth that is the firm foundation upon which we can stand. It gives us the confidence to be bold. It encourages us to be faithful. Which is exactly what Paul says in the very next verse: “Therefore, stand firm, let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.” 1 Cor.15:58
Praying God’s blessing upon us all as these truths continually become our lived reality.