Joshua 24: 14-15
“Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Freedom to Choose
As I said last week. It is just wonderful to gather together a once a week and look at our lives and reflect upon it instead of just living it, we want to understand our life I’m living and what am I doing with my life, so it is wonderful. Once a week we come together like this and then reflect on life itself. Today I like to think about the fact that life is a choice. Life is a choice. You don’t live just because we are alive. We live because we choose to live. If I don’t have children, if I don’t have a choice in life, I don’t think I can call that life is a slavery. If I don’t have a choice and somebody else cannot make this choice for me, or my life is slavery. It’s not my life, so life without choice, I don’t call that life. God. wants us to be human beings, to have that choice right from the very beginning of creation, God made a forbidden tree in the garden of Eden and then God told Adam, don’t take any fruit from this tree, and I was always wondering why God put that forbidden tree in the middle of the garden of Eden. If God did not put that tree, then we human beings would not have fallen into sin and we would not have suffered so much only if he did not put the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden. But the moment God said to Adam and Eve that this is the forbidden tree and you should not take any fruit from that tree, the moment he said that Adam and Eve got the choice. We human beings received the right to choose. In other words, God gave them the power to choose, the right to choose. When everything was permitted, it was good, but there was no choice, but the moment God gave them the forbidden tree, now they had a choice. Precious gifts, so in that sense, choice is a precious gift. God did not give the forbidden tree to tempt Adam and Eve or test them or restrict them. It was God’s way of saying to Adam and Eve, now you have a choice, and what are you gonna do with that? Choice is God’s greatest gift to humanity. Choice means freedom. And also choice means empowerment.
The Choice is Taken Away
People who can make choice, they are empower. People can make choice. They are free to do so. You know your children grow with your love under your care. They enjoy your care and protection, but as they get older they get rebellious. Even my little grandson, he gets rebellious. He wants to do everything on his own so we can’t even go to a restaurant anymore because when we go to a restaurant, he yells and he wants a spoon. He cannot even use it very well, but he wanted for himself. And so, they will rebel and so when they get to the high school level, the rebellion comes to a climax. Why do they do that? is it because they don’t agree with you or because they don’t trust you? It is because they’re claiming their right. They are claiming their right to choose. They want to make choice for themselves. They’re claiming they’re basic human right. Not that they’ll do better because they have a choice. Now, sometimes they do worse. Sometimes they make the wrong choices, but the important thing is that they are making choices for themselves. Life is not just about not making mistakes and being always safe and successful. Life is about finding your authentic life and we doubt making a choice. How can you find your own authentic life that is worth calling is all about God called each and every one very uniquely to find that unique life for yourself. You have to learn to choose and without that choice, you cannot find that unique life. You’re just living a life of somebody else. You’re just imitating somebody else. Life, not your life, and to live my life, I have to know that I have the power and freedom to choose the life that I want to live.
It will take time to figure that out though. It’s not that easy. Taking away choice is taking away our basic human dignity. Taking away choice is the worst thing that you can do to a person. We all know the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai probably. Saw this picture around you in the bookstore or everywhere. And she said, when the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. A very inspiring story of a person. She was born in 1997, so that makes her 17 or 19 already. Yeah, in 1997 in Swat valley, Pakistan. So valleys, like as they are called the Switzerland of Pakistan, she was born in a beautiful village and she loves to study. She loved to ride. She always a release was striving for good education. And in 2009 she wrote a blog on BBC. Anything anonymously she wrote a blog on BBC and she became famous but nobody knew who she was. And then soon her identity was revealed. So in 2011, she was a nominee for international children’s peace prize. So we should receive this great price in 2011, but in 2012, uh, I mean she wrote about life under Taliban and in 2012 Taliban, some members of Taliban came and shot her into her head and then the bullet went through and then a kill some nerves and all that. And by the time she was a famous and somehow she was taken to the hospital in Pakistan, a major city, but soon she was taken to London, England. And she survived miraculously. And in 2014 as the youngest person, she received a Nobel prize peace prize. She said, “I didn’t want my future to be imprisoned in my four walls and just cooking and giving birth.” She wanted to get an education and just because of the fact that she wanted an education and the girl, her choice was taken away by the Taliban and she didn’t just sit there and let her choice taken away. She fought for that choice knowing that it was dangerous for her to do that and many people around her told her not to do that, but she did that because, without that choice, her life was not life. She fought for basic human dignity. My friend’s life without choice is not life, but choice does not come easily. Choice has cost formula. It was her life. That was the cost she had to risk pe. She said, “I am stronger than fear.” She’s only 19 years old.
Making a Difficult Choice
That’s what Jesus taught us Jesus came to show us that you are stronger than fear. The disciples followed Jesus for yes, they were with Jesus. They did not realize that there were stronger than fear, but as time went along, they started realizing that they were stronger than fear and ultimately they embraced even the fear of death and they understood that truth. I am stronger than fear. My friend to Jesus Cross was the choice. The cross wasn’t as something imposed upon him. Cross was a deliberate choice of Jesus Christ. He could avoid it. He didn’t have to take the cross. He could go around, but Jesus could not throw away the right to choose. Jesus lived out the power to choose even though that meant death. The power to choose was greater than the fear of death. Ultimately, the choice that Jesus man bade led Jesus to go beyond death, even though he had he chose cross risking his life and he died, but ultimately the choice led Jesus to go beyond death to resurrection. That’s kind of resurrection, I believe. I don’t believe in the resurrection. You just live and you die and you go to heaven. I believe in the resurrection that comes as a result of choice. I’m looking at Jesus’ life. When I read it, when I reflect on Jesus’ life, this thing comes to me. I don’t know whether or not it comes to you but he was completely free to choose. I don’t have that kind of freedom. Jesus lived with that freedom to choose.
He made most difficult choice. Every situation he had that freedom. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” And he really knew the truth and that’s why he was free to choose in the most difficult situation. That’s why I respect Jesus. That’s why I believe in Jesus. He showed what your life is all about. Every morning I get up and say to myself, this date is given to me. I choose to live God, help me choose life over death, courage over fear, love over hate, treat truth over safety or success. That’s why what I pray in the morning,
God has given all of you the wonderful gift, the gift of choice. Don’t let the world take away that gift from you. Don’t let your fear take away that precious gift from you. Don’t live a single moment of your life without making choice. My high school friends ahead of you. You have so many important decisions that you have to make, whether you like it or not, you have to make those important decisions. Learn to choose every single moment of your life. Learn to choose. Don’t live other people’s choice. Live the life you choose. Don’t live out other people’s choice and later, don’t blame them. Oh, he wasn’t my choice. It wasn’t my parent’s choice. Coil wasn’t my torso and my friends did it. No, don’t do that. Make your choice and don’t blame anybody else. May God help you as you make choice in the beginning, you’ll make lots of mistakes. That’s all right, but over the years you will learn how to choose wisely. In today’s passage, Joshua explaining the history of his ancestors asked people to choose whom to serve. This is what he said. Now, if you’re unwilling to serve the Lord to this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your ancestors survived in the region beyond river or the gods of the Amorites in whose land are living, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. In other words, we’ll choose to serve the Lord. He chose to serve God. Choose to serve God. That was Jesus’ choice. He said to Satan, don’t send me. I chose to serve God and God alone. Don’t just come to church. Choose to come to church. Don’t just believe in God. Choose to believe in God. May God empower you and help you as you make choice for the Lord, for the truth, for the compassion. Let us sync together. I have decided that’s our choice to follow Jesus Very Old Gospel Song, a very meaningful phrase. I had decided, I’ve chosen to follow, with Jesus behind me. Go with me.
Let us have a moment of reflection about our own lives. Do make a conscious choice every moment, or do we just live habitually or do we just follow our emotion or mood? Do we just let the environment dictate us or to make a conscious choice to live? Let us pray that God give me the power and freedom to be able to choose. Let us pray for Katie. Yesterday I visited her. No, I couldn’t even talk to her. She was not able to communicate. She’s bedridden. She wasn’t able to eat any food. Let us pray for Katie often. She opens her eyes and she calls out, mommy, mommy, let us pray for her last moment.