Yep, Bob Dylan said it well, “it might be the devil or might be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” I’d argue that the somebody that many of us serve is our own ego (which may not be a bad definition of “the devil”) which may seem like serving no one, but it is certainly one form of slavery. The 12-steppers among us understand well that although addiction for them is a disease, meaning that the desires are beyond their control, they still have a choice about whether to treat the disease or not. It is similar to a person with diabetes choosing whether to eat properly or suffer the consequences of the disease they didn’t choose. Part of the wisdom of the Twelve Steps is that serving the addiction is the road to insanity and that a return to sanity requires a higher power. Yep, you gotta serve somebody.

When Joshua spoke to the children of the Israelites who had crossed the Red Sea, he effectively defied them not to serve the God who had liberated their parents. He pretty much said, “God has done all sorts of mighty miracles for your parents but don’t let that stop you from choosing these Canaanite gods instead.” It was a challenge to remain faithful to the one true God who was bigger than our imagination. The local gods who promised a good harvest or recovery from illness in exchange for a sacrifice here or an offering there were pretty appealing, albeit too small. Committing to the God of their mothers and fathers would mean standing out in their new land, and not in a good way. Talk about your culture wars, there were two cultures inhabiting the land and things were far from friendly (the book of Judges chronicles these years from the distant future of the time of the kings). And here we are in the even more distant future with our small health and wealth gospel god and embroidered doilies proclaiming our allegiance. Maybe it is time that we examine the insanity that our addiction to our comfortable way of life brings and accept that we need the help of the higher power of the God who liberates from captivity.

This true God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but does promise never to abandon us. This God does promise us blessings, but those blessings are in our care in order to bless others. This God loves us madly, but is also the God who created and loves the entire universe. This is a personal God who is as close as each breath that we take, but not a private God for us to keep as our own exclusive deity. The God we want is not the God we need, and is much smaller than the God who is.

So choose this day whom you will serve…you gotta serve somebody…

RevIan Lynch is pastor of Old South UCC in Kirtland, Ohio, where  Darkwood Brew is used as a tool for ministry as  church beyond walls. He has a YouTube channel called Bible Bytes,  short video commentaries on the scripture lesson for the week.

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