This article was first published on our church website
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” (Joshua 7:20-21)
“God’s aim in human history is the creation of an inclusive community of loving persons, with himself included as its primary sustainer and most glorious inhabitant” – Dallas Willard
One of the simplest conclusions that we can draw out of Chapter 7, is that the community collapsed, because God had been nudged off centre and pushed into the wings by other things in Achan’s heart. God had specifically said in the previous chapter that all of these things which Achan had taken were to be devoted or set apart for him; yet Achan’s actions demonstrated that God was clearly not centre stage in his thinking and heart’s affections.
Sadly Achan’s words have been echoed by millions of others (including me) who have uttered very similar! His words are also a rehash of the words and actions that Adam & Eve spoke and did when the first break in community between humanity and God took place. Adam & Eve saw with their eyes and they coveted God’s authority and sadly they reached out their hands and took from the forbidden fruit and with that first bite, drew into the hidden place of their hearts a desire to nudge God off centre stage and into the wings. It is that same old trick, being outworked repeatedly throughout history.
Achan was duped by another voice into thinking that life and community would somehow be better if God was not central to the decisions and affections that move the community forward. He might have allowed God to hang out in the wings or even in the background, but not centre stage and certainly not directing the affairs of his life!
Ultimately, Achan had been fooled into thinking that stuff was more important than community with God and community with others! Let’s just pause for a moment. Suddenly Achan doesn’t seem like such a loser to me as when I first read this passage. In fact, he seems more and more like me! What about you? Are you tempted to put stuff (time, hobbies, career, Netflix, and a host of other things), before life in community with God and others? Are you tempted to try and nudge God off centre in your life, taking ‘control’ of the direction and decisions of your life?
Dear Father, thank you that all of scripture is … useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. And thank you for this challenging chapter! Would you help me to keep you centre stage in all my affections, decisions and actions. Help me to live first and foremost for community with you and community with others! Amen