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Choose this Day Whom You Will Serve
Recovering moral conviction in an age of pervasive ambiguity
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
One of the more subtle and insidious aspects of fallen human nature is its strange preference for moral ambiguity over moral clarity. As Jesus Himself noted, we sinners have a peculiar attachment to darkness rather than light — and not for any fault on the part of light but rather because of our own moral perversion: our works are evil and so we choose to skulk in the shadows (Jn. 3:19).
Lewis made a similar observation in his preface to The Great Divorce. Describing our distaste for “either-or” decisions concerning good and evil, he noted:
“The attempt is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, 465)
The unbelieving heart, in other words, is always looking for a way to have its cake and eat it too. Resenting the fact that it should ever be required to give something up simply for the sake of its being right and true, unbelief seeks for nuance and ambiguity to shield it from the sacrifices true faithfulness requires. Content to settle for the mere appearance of faithfulness rather than faithfulness itself, unbelief conveniently opts for an “obedience” that won’t cost it the loss of hands or eyes (Mk. 9:42–50).
The trouble is, no such way of pleasing God exists in reality. The postmoderns, quite simply, are wrong: the world God has made is not nearly as grey as they suppose, and is in fact wonderfully coloured in black and white.
This is because the Scriptures everywhere uphold and celebrate the objectivity of the moral order; a moral order that is grounded in the eternal character of God and woven all throughout the cosmos. There is a path that leads to life and a path that leads to death; there is true worship and there is idolatry; there is obedience and disobedience; faith and unbelief. But nowhere is there a middle ground where this binary can be muddled or erased. Androgyny, despite having gained temporary cultural popularity, falls on its face in God’s world as a moral category.
The condition of every individual, family, institution, and nation, therefore, is just as Joshua said: each one must choose this day whom he will serve, whether the false gods of the peoples or the true and living God who reigns from heaven and has revealed Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was once a hallmark of the church that it was comprised of those who had turned from idols to serve the living God (1 Thess. 1:9–10); it is urgent that the church once again recover this reputation. For although “there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’ —yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:5–6).
The existence of this God — the God who is there, as Schaeffer said — presses upon each one of us the irremovable burden of faith and obedience. We may choose to obey or disobey; what we cannot do is erase our responsibility.