“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.” (NLT)
Tolerance is regarded as one of the greatest virtues. Being open minded is a sign of maturity. Though as G.K. Chesterton once wrote, the point of having an open mind is, like having an open mouth, to close it on something solid. Choices have to be made eventually. Certainly we think carefully about our choices and our beliefs and are respectful to those who disagree with us. But we can be tolerant and yet hold firmly to beliefs. To allow others to hold their beliefs is common courtesy. To call all beliefs equally true is intellectually dishonest.
Joshua left the people of Israel in no doubt about this. As they settled in the promised land, the people were told to make their choices. Would they commit to serving the God who delivered them from Egypt? Or would they serve the local deities of the people around them? They couldn’t do both. They couldn’t both honour God and dabble in the worship of other deities. There was truth and there was falsehood. So choose.
By all means have an open mind, but as a means to finding a rock solid faith rather than some insipid neutrality. In fact, Joshua reminds us of the sobering truth that in faith matters there is no neutrality.
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