From Kelly Madden
"Choose this day whom you will serve." Other gods, or the LORD. To serve other gods is to forsake him. To serve the LORD is to reject all others.
Our fallen nature abhors binary choices. It loves the third way, the gray---flexibility. When the Israelites turned to regional deities, they didn't actually reject Yahweh. Not formally, or expressly. They just added to their pantheon. Broadened their spiritual resources, so to speak.
Just as I don't mean to turn my back on Jesus when I wander from his way to meet my needs elsewhere.
But to God, and to the godly mind, that amounts to the same thing.
The Roman empire didn't see Christians as a threat because they worshipped a non-Roman deity. Rome was at least as pluralistic as our own time. No, the problem was the exclusivity of Christ's claims. "Jesus is Lord!" Not Caesar, nor any other. So obedience to the law of the land was always contingent on a prior commitment. Very problematic, politically.
The true follower of Jesus is peaceable, wise, gracious, winsome, cheerful, loving, hardworking, and self-sacrificial. But also a fanatic, they say.
I am an ordained priest in the Anglican Church in North America. I direct the Boston Fellows, a service program of the Anglican Diocese in New England. I and my wife, Heather, live on Revere Beach.