By Rev. Nino Gonzalez
A “dilemma” is a situation requiring a choice between alternatives in which one of them is not desirable. We are living in a generational tight spot. The challenge to believe in God is at its critical moment. How long will it be before this generation in its entirety decides to do away with morality, healthy values and everything that sounds like God? Some social experts believe that in two generations an entire system of beliefs can be gone. What guarantees are there that our children will accept, choose and be taught the things of God in the years ahead?
Joshua had to face the same dilemma that this generation is confronting today and that’s the essence of his message in Joshua 24. When we observe the context of the book of Joshua we find a few hints as to what Joshua did and what we, the church and its leaders, can do to influence a generation towards God.
First, we see a leader who witnessed God’s supernatural power. From his days in Egypt, all the way through the desert, and now in the promised land of Canaan, he witnessed God’s move firsthand. He ate manna; drank from the rock; benefitted from the cloud and the pillar of fire. I am of the conviction that Christianity without a demonstration of the supernatural doesn’t have a chance in this generation. The God of Moses and Joshua was a “show up” God. He was there, present, doing, speaking, moving, intervening, correcting. Today we defend thesis after thesis on Christian doctrines with seemingly no demonstration at all. What chance do we have against the modern serpents of Egypt? It seems like this world is Pharaoh’s palace and we need to demonstrate that Jesus Christ has more power than anything Egypt throws at us.
Secondly, Joshua was a leader with boldness and convictions. We need that type of character today. Christianity is fighting for a position on the platform called political correctness. We want to be accepted by the powerful and famous, (politicians, sport stars, Hollywood figures, etc.) and if that means compromising our knowledge of God, moral and holy living, so be it. Joshua knew that charging a generation to choose between God and the idols of his time meant discovering the hidden philosophies in peoples’ lives. Our pulpits and preaching opportunities have to be modern day Shechem, (Joshua 24:1), where people are confronted with their motives, ideas, philosophies and human principles ruling today’s life.
Thirdly, we need to pose the right questions and propose the right answers. Do we want to continue the path this generation has taken or do we want to see healing throughout our land? Our culture might not have the obvious physical idols like in the time of Joshua, but they are embracing the philosophy behind the idol. Some of these are the lack of respect for human life; violence, self pleasure; materialistic ambitions; sexual immorality, etc. These were the goals behind the idols of Canaan. Joshua charged his people to choose. That was a clear call to repentance. He boldly states, “Fear God” (v.14). He was calling Israel to a return to God.
Lastly, he made himself an example, “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” We need to be examples to this generation. Christianity has the best opportunity when the messenger lives the message. We know we have a dilemma, but this could be the greatest opportunity the church of Jesus Christ has ever had. Let’s choose the right path.
Rev. Nino Gonzalez serves as the Superintendent of the Florida Multicultural District of the Assemblies of God.