If you grew up in a Christian environment there’s a good chance you can finish the sentence “As for me and my house..” – particularly if your growing up included the 1970s or 1980s. That particular part of Joshua 24:15 was to be found hanging in many a hallway of the houses I visited as a child. It has always been a favourite of my Dad’s as well and for years growing up as “the Church Warden’s Son” I always felt the pressure of this declaration. It’s not an unfamiliar tale to those with parents in some kind of official role in the Church, I’m sure.
Anyone who watches the Apprentice TV series will be aware of the danger of making bold declarations. Each series at least one candidate will declare that week’s task is “right up their street” and of course that is usually the week they lose the task and leave the show. If we look at this passage we see that it was not just Joshua who made a bold declaration:
14Then Joshua said to the people, “Now respect the Lord and serve him fully and sincerely. Throw away the gods that your ancestors worshipped on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord. 15 But if you don’t want to serve the Lord, you must choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. You may serve the gods that your ancestors worshipped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, or you may serve the gods of the Amorites who lived in this land. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” 16 Then the people answered, “We will never stop following the Lord to serve other gods! Joshua 24:14-16 NCV (emphasis mine)
Being online as a Christian there is the always the pressure to feel we must represent Christianity in a positive light and all too often we can interpret that as making the sort of bold statements the Israelites did in v16 here. A key problem for the Israelites here is the same one we face – their statement was recorded. Anything we say online can be stored, captured and almost guaranteed to haunt us later. Perceived hypocrisy could well do more damage to our reputation and that of all followers than keeping our mouth shut would. So should the fear of this make us avoid such statements of faith altogether then? I think not but perhaps we should apply the old adage of “measure twice, cut once” to our online posts as well. Compose twice, post once perhaps?