There’s a specific language used when people talk about Christianity–about becoming Christian. Like any other cultural demographic, there is a certain amount of jargon, and specifically a fairly tight set of words used to describe the act of becoming a true Christian. Three words in particular are relevant to my thoughts today: “choose,” “allow” and “accept.”
One of the more famous, oft-quoted verses that people bandy about comes from the book of Joshua, and it is relevant to my thoughts this morning: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Often, it is just the last line that is recited, almost as a mantra: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Sometimes, in fact, the use of this verse has rubbed me the wrong way. While at face value it simply states “My family walks with God,” there is also a nearly pejorative implication left unsaid: “You don’t, and I can tell from up here on my horse that God doesn’t like your actions.” In the past, I’ve felt as if the use of that verse is almost . . . weaponized. Out of the mouth of the wrong person, it feels like a shot across the bow before things get really nasty.
But, I think that there is a word in this verse that is much more important than the aforementioned last line: “choose.” The implications there are much more amicable; you get to have a say in the matter. This is, I think, the crux of Christianity: you have to want it, and it has to be a conscious decision.
In my own life, I know this to be true. Proverbs tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” but that’s exactly how I’d lived my life until just a few weeks ago (Proverbs 3:5). I allowed my intellect and understanding of the world to rule my faith, and it left no room for true trust. Only when I made a choice to pursue Him did I find Him in my heart.
Only when I found Him in my heart could I allow Him to become a part of my life and thoughts.
Only when I allowed Him to become part of my life could I accept Him as God.
God doesn’t make us Christian; he can only guide us. If He could do it for us, that wouldn’t be free will. Christ doesn’t make us Christian; he can only sacrifice for us and teach us. Only we can make ourselves Christian; we must choose that path, accept Him in our hearts, and allow ourselves to be changed in that way. It doesn’t happen to us. We do it, and then the magic happens.