Saturday, September 9, 2017

Be Strong and Courageous

No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for [Yahweh] your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-9, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).
Moses is dead. Here Yahweh is speaking to Joshua. He is telling Joshua to lead Yahweh’s people into the land of Canaan—the land which Yahweh had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob he would give to their descendants.
Possession of this land will be Yahweh’s gift to Joshua. Yahweh will be with him always. He will never fail or abandon him. Because of this, Joshua will certainly prove victorious over all his enemies without exception.
Joshua, however, has his part to play. Yahweh tells him to be strong and courageous. If he is, then Yahweh’s people will take control of the land. If he isn’t, they won’t.
Yahweh tells Joshua to be strong and very courageous. Taking control of promised land means living as a man devoted to Yahweh. For Joshua to be that, he needs to shape his whole way of thinking according to Yahweh’s words by reading and reflecting on them constantly. He also needs to develop ways of speaking and acting consistent with those words.
Yahweh tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. He is Yahweh’s chosen leader. As such, he has no reason to be afraid. Yahweh most certainly will remain with him no matter what the context.
Yahweh tells Joshua to be strong and courageous: take control of promised land, be faithful, and fear not.
Joshua affirmed Yahweh’s words to him for the rest of his life. By doing so, Yahweh was able to give his people the land he had promised their ancestors and Joshua was able to remain faithful to Yahweh.
As Christians, we too may hear Jesus speaking to us today through these same words.
We must note, however, that our circumstances as Church are now the exact opposite of those of Joshua and the people of Israel. Then, Israel was about to enter and conquer. Now, the Church continues to shed members and means because we have lost our meaning. That meaning has been continuously attacked and we have increasingly abandoned it in response.
What might Jesus still say to us today through this passage from Joshua?
Enough! From now on, no matter what anger and reprisals we might face from others, we are not to yield another inch of integrity. While our situation as Church appears lost beyond redemption, Jesus remains with us. “And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Fear not! The conventional Olympian gods and their destructive minions, including our own Olympian personality, will not prevail!
Read the Bible! As Christians and churches, right now we enable the Global Technological System to drain us of meaning by immersing ourselves, with unbridled enthusiasm, in the painfully Olympian corporate media. We devote ourselves to the Olympian gods by gorging on all the movies, television shows, ads, pop music, and social media that witness so powerfully to them. By doing so, we fatten our Olympian personality even as we starve our Christian one.
Read the Bible! In saving contrast, Jesus invites us to allow his living words, spoken anew through the words of the Bible, to form and strengthen our Christian personality and to weaken our Olympian one. As he does so, he enables us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to likewise strengthen the Church as his alternative society and culture on Earth. In both ways, he preserves what little is left of our integrity as witnesses to him. Better than nothing at all!
Be proud! Arrogance is self-centeredness. That’s what the dull Olympian gods and their tedious media are always encouraging our Olympian personality to show. In contrast, pride is deep satisfaction. Through the words from the Book of Joshua, Jesus invites us today to proudly stand by him as the one and only source, center, and goal of all truth. He calls his people, once again, to be strong and courageous. If we are, then he will enable us to maintain our witness to truth despite all odds. If we aren’t, then we will lose what little integrity we still have.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.