For the past few weeks, I have been part of several different discussions asking essentially the same question in a variety of settings. This week I read the essential question in one of the textbooks I am reading for a leadership class:
Where is the supernatural, world-changing, life-transforming power of God?
At least part of the answer can be found in Joshua’s words to the people of Israel.
Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel. (Joshua 24:23 ESV)
Here are two thoughts on this verse. First, there is a very real tendency for many of us to define our life by the first part of this or similar verses. We identify our faith by what we do not do. I do not worship false gods. I do not get drunk, I do not have sex with someone other than my spouse, I do not lie, I do not steal…. you get the idea. It reminds me of a certain religious leader who said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” (Luke18:11)
Second, we miss the life-transforming power of God in our lives if we fail to “incline our hearts to God”. In every aspect of our lives, our greatest desire should be nothing else but the Lord. Many times we refer to the church in the book of Acts as a model of power and transformation. My textbook included the following statement about the faith of the earliest Christians as “nothing less than life-defining allegiance to Jesus – as recognized through Holy Scripture and revealed through the Holy Spirit – that resulted in increasing confidence in God’s decisive action on their behalf in Jesus Christ and in increasing conformity to the character of Jesus Christ.”
(Timothy Paul Jones and Michael S. Wilder in Christian Formation)
If our hearts seek Christ first in all things, there is no room for other gods among us. On this day. let us evaluate any “foreign gods” we may have in our lives and then let our greatest desire be to incline our hearts to the Lord.