There’s a scene at the end of the book of Joshua where the tribes of Israel are gathered together. And it is here that we find what has for many become familiar words, a solemn declaration by the book’s namesake: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (24:15). The tribes will later make a similar commitment, declaring: “We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God” (24:18b). The people’s commitment is borne from their identity as a people called, rescued, and blessed by God (24:2-13).
As readers of this text, we too are invited to consider this same question in our day, namely: Who will you be? And when we do, we come to see that this is not merely a question of identity (who we are) but also how that identity takes shape (how we live). In other words, this “who will you be?” is a stewardship question. For Joshua and the nation, their identity as God’s people gives rise to their commitment to faithful living – a pattern repeated throughout the Bible: God’s grace (in action) preceding our commitment.
This idea wasn’t lost on the Reformers. The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) famously begins: “That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul, in life and in death— to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” Recipients of God’s saving work, that’s a nod to identity. But also note how this same section of the catechism will end: “Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit… makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him” (emphasis added). Willing and ready to live for Christ – that’s a “how we live” response.
So who will you be? As I write this, we’re at the tail end of summer and beginning a new program season — a season that means a new way of life for so many in both church and community. Children and youth find themselves in a new school year, with new teachers, classes, and challenges. Households experience a new rhythm with the change of schedule and a change of pace. Ever shortening days and cooler weather hint at summer’s retreat and winter’s advance. Amidst this backdrop of change comes an important time for personal pause — a time when we too might consider who we will be in the season ahead as persons called to live in the presence of God (coram deo).
1. What does God’s calling, rescue, and blessing look like in your life?
2. Responding to God’s grace, what is your own faithful response in this new season (i.e. who will you be)?