“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
The theme for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America’s 2016 Creative Festival is a good thing for all Orthodox Christians to think about, regardless of jurisdiction. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) This is a great verse for us to study with our family, and is even more important for us to embrace as the theme for our family’s home.
A few thoughts on the passage: Take a moment to look at the whole 24th chapter of Joshua to better understand the context of this statement of faith. In the verses prior to verse 15, we read that Joshua was reminding the Israelites of everything that God had done for them over the years. He told them to put away all other idols and serve only God. Then he made this bold declaration of his plan that he and his household would serve the Lord.
In the verses that follow, we read that Joshua carried on a dialogue with the Israelite people. As he was doing this, the people kept saying, “We will follow God!” and Joshua replied that God is Holy and therefore His people can not follow any other gods; only Him. This happened multiple times; it is almost as though Joshua was trying to talk the Israelite people out of following God; certainly he was testing their resolve; checking to see if they were certain of their decision. But the people insisted that they would follow only God. Finally, all together they made a covenant to follow the Lord. They even set up a big rock to remind themselves of that covenant.
It’s interesting to note that Joshua didn’t force the people to follow God. He simply encouraged them to choose for themselves and then he set the example by choosing to follow God with his household. As Orthodox Christian parents, we can choose that our household will follow God while our children are under our roof, as well, just as Joshua chose to do with his family. But, in the same way that Joshua related to the children of Israel who were not in his household, we too cannot force our children to follow God once they outgrow our home. We baptise our children into the Faith while they are young and we are still able to set their course in the direction of the Church, but we cannot force them to continue. That has to be their choice, and, God willing, it will be! So, just as Joshua did for his fellow Israelites, let us invite our children to follow only God for all of their lives. Let us lead the way by our own example, removing any idols in our home and in our life that could interfere with that complete following. While we follow, let us also keep reminding our children (and ourselves) of all that God has done for us along the way. Let us also remind each other that we need to follow Him without distractions. And the whole time, both when they are following with us in our home, and when they have moved out on their own, let us pray for our children, that they will always choose to serve the Lord!
Together with the family:
- Study Joshua 24:15 together.
- Talk about the verse and its implications. Consider questions such as these: So that our family can follow God more completely, is there anything that needs to change in our household? What are the idols – the things that we are allowing to be more important to us than God – that are keeping our family from following fully? How can we really serve the Lord? What does serving Him look like in everyday life?
- Commit together as a family to serve the Lord with all of your hearts. Make a plan for how to do that.
- Place a reminder, a “stone of remembrance” of sorts, somewhere in your home that will help you to remember this passage and your family’s commitment to following God more fully. It could be an actual stone or perhaps an artistic rendering of Joshua 24:15.
- Serve Him!
The following ideas can help your family as you apply Joshua 24:15:
Need an idea of a way to study this passage together as a family? Here is a free printable pdf that includes the passage and a variety of related activities, including a coloring page, a word search, a crossword puzzle, fill-in-the-blank, and a devotional meditation that incorporates other scriptures. Print one for the family to share, or one for each family member. http://kidsclubs4jesus.com/OT1-60/OT35.pdf
Khouria Gigi Shadid’s song about Joshua 24:15 can help us think about this passage. Listen here: http://www.antiochian.org/festivals/cf/theme-song-2016
Find practical ways to implement your family’s decision to serve the Lord on this Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/lkmcj/as-for-me-and-my-house/
Find a free “chalkboard-look” printable (5×7 size) of Joshua 24:15 to frame and display, here: http://prettydarncute.com/2013/09/new-free-printable/
There are many ways to display Joshua 24:15 in your home. Find decals, plaques, signs, and more here: https://www.etsy.com/market/joshua_24_15
If you have a member of the family that enjoys counted cross stitch, perhaps they could stitch this wallhanging for your house: http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/x-stitch/myhouse2.html
Here’s a blog that one mom wrote which includes several craft ideas of ways to help children create displays of Joshua 24:15 to put up at home as a reminder: https://intentionalmomblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/a-as-for-me-and-my-house-we-will-serve-the-lord-joshua-2415/