When the game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, premiered on ABC on August 16, 1999, it quickly became a hit. Television viewers across the nation tuned in each episode to see if contestants could answer 14 multiple-choice questions. If all 14 questions could be answered, then the contestant went home with one million dollars. Most contestants did not get that far. Yet, when someone did complete the challenge, everyone celebrated.
With each question, the audience watched as the contestant talked through the four possible answers. Viewers were able to witness them ponder each choice. Sometimes they could use a “lifeline” to get help from the audience or friends or family members. Once they came to a decision, the host would ask them one last time, “Is that your final answer?” Right or wrong, they had to affirm that a decision was made.
We make a lot of decisions every day. Many are inconsequential that go unnoticed; what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, etc. We make a decision and then move on. Yet, there are those times when a decision stops us in our tracks. The decision that we make will have huge implications for our lives, such as who we marry, our occupation, where we live, etc. Such decisions are not easily made but often take time and much thought. And if you are a person of faith, it might take a lot of prayer.
In the book of Joshua, the people of Israel were preparing to enter the long awaited Promised Land. After their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the people of Israel had finally arrived at their new home. Joshua, their new leader, challenged the people as they prepared to enter. The people were entering a land where they would be tempted to follow other gods rather than the God who had delivered them. Joshua calls for the people to make a decision. In Joshua 24: 14-15, we read, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served 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.” This would be Joshua’s final answer. Now the people had to decide whom they would follow.
When Jesus began his earthly ministry, he called people to follow him. Jesus never forced or compelled anyone to do so. Jesus simply invited. Jesus offered an invitation and allowed people the opportunity to choose. Some like Matthew quit the work they were doing and walked off the job to follow Jesus. Like the rich young ruler, others walked away from Jesus’ invitation deciding to live his life apart from the Lord.
Each of us must give a final answer to Jesus’ invitation to follow him. Jesus calls us to step away from our lives and enter a relationship with him whereby our lives are now founded, guided, and directed by this relationship. We surrender control of our lives over to our Lord so that every decision we make in life is now made under his influence. We make decisions about our lives that will strengthen this relationship and glorify God. And while we may make our initial decision to follow Jesus, we must still decide every day whom we will serve. When we say yes to Jesus, then we enter the promised land of real life. Hence, every day we must respond to Joshua’s statement to the Israelites, “choose this day whom you will serve.” What will our answer be?