I thought I published this Thursday, but it seems to have ended up in “drafts” in Word Press. Hope it’s not a repeat.
Biblical faith is something I like to refer to as repentant trust, or obedient trust. It is the willingness to entrust oneself to God’s care while obeying His commandments. Such obedience often takes great courage and strength. It may be accompanied by anxiety or fear. If I obey God then I may be killed, I may be hated, I may be ostracized, I may be passed over, I may be thought of as some weirdo. Certainly Joshua and the people has plenty to fear as they were about to invade the land of Canaan. So would they trust God to care of them as they obeyed, or would they not? Here is how Moses, in his last hours, exhorted them: Deuteronomy 31:7-8:
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
I know, I know, there are people who think that Christians think and operate on some level of personal and military conquest, not unlike the situation we find here at the end of Deuteronomy. Secretly, deep down, it is feared, we’re all theocratic, and we can’t wait to conquer the world, much like Joshua conquering Canaan. We know that such ideas are silly, but then, how do passages as above apply to us today? They really are all about trust. Does Joshua trust God to take care of him if he, Joshua, is obedient and does what he is commanded to do? Please notice how a New Testament writer applies these words to the life of Christian discipleship. Are we willing to trust God to take care of us if we don’t spend our lives pursuing the mighty dollar? If we seem to be falling behind on the game of who has the most stuff, will people think we’re losers, failures? Will we lose out in the rat race of this world if we operate with a different set of values? Inside of us it feels like our very souls really require such and such to be whole, happy, and to feel that we have “made it.” It is like death to say “no” to the spirit of acquisition. If we choose to be content in a situation will God meet our needs – emotional, spiritual, and physical? In the analogy inherent in this passage the promised land is contentment, and we are commanded to enter into it, but we are afraid to. Do we trust God to take care of us if we do? God’s words to Joshua have meaning for just such a dilemma – Hebrews 13:5-6:
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”