Where can Christians turn when we’ve been pushed around, misunderstood, and bruised with adversity? The answer for us today is not unlike the answer for the ancient Hebrews. Following God’s Law, they set up “cities of refuge”—pockets of security and protection, where healing could happen. Places of spiritual refuge are just as needed today.
The thing that makes for greatness is determination, persisting in the same direction over the long haul. Success is the result of a long, painful, arduous, sometimes sacrificial process. In our world of instant everything these are not popular traits, but they lead to excellence.
Centuries ago, as God led the ancient Hebrews into the Promised Land, He specifically instructed them to clear the territory of the foreign tribes and to rid themselves of the influence of Canaanite civilization. From this example, we can draw an analogy for today. If we truly desire to grow deeper, pull together, and go further than skin-deep superficiality in our relationships, we must remove those things that hinder true community.
Joshua's journey had come to an end and he poured out his soul to his people. He was deeply concerned about their willingness to compromise their convictions and co-exist with the Canaanites. And so, Joshua delivered his final message of warning.
Joshua's final speech can be summarized in three words: “choose for yourselves” (Joshua 24:15). These three words apply so perfectly to us today as we consider how to build congregational relationships. In the final analysis, we either will or will not pull together, grow deeper, and become a caring body of believers. It’s really up to each of us to choose whether or not to bond with other believers.