Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Worshipping the god of things as they are

The story in scripture of David verses Goliath is found in 1 Samuel 17. It is a gripping story, one that clearly is a biblical favorite. It is one of the first stories we teach our children. In some ways we consider it a “kids” story, simple, straightforward. Study of it reveals a deep and abiding story that has much to teach us young and old.

David was still very young, not a man, when he came to fight Goliath. In the Moffat Translation, 1 Samuel 17:42 says “He (being Goliath) despised him (David) for his youth.” David, a young shepard, untrained as a soldier, should not fight or even dare challenge a trained barbarian such as Goliath. Something different was in the air.

As we get older in age, something different or change, is harder to accept. As a culture, change is harder to accept since we have lived in a time of unchallenged ease. Change makes us older ones fearful of the unknown, doubtful of any benefit, if any. Yes, we too like to worship at the altar of “the god of things as they are.”

The Israelites and their King Saul were huddled on a mountainside staging for a battle with the Philistines. The situation was complicated by the daily taunts of a nine foot nine inch giant called Goliath. Send someone to fight me; whoever loses will become the subjects of the other side. Not a pleasant situation. In 1 Samuel 17:11 it says, “On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” Yes, they were afraid of the dire situation. The Israelites were waiting for the inevitable defeat.

Young David comes with just a sling and 5 stones; no armor, no spear, no sword. He realizes that the Israelite army’s only response will be a tame, spineless submission to the playground bully. David gets fired up and says, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Clovis Chappel said, “We like these brave and burning words, all of us. David refused to worship ‘the god of things as they are.’ We rejoice that he will not allow bullying wrongs to go unchallenged today just because they went unchallenged yesterday!!"

Youth throughout the centuries have blazed the trail to right all wrongs. We battle-scared veterans sit on the sidelines in arrogant smugness thinking we know better, and in some ways we do, but sometimes we have left no room for the Living God of Israel to do His mighty work. Yes, we sit and grouse while a world goes to hell—many of them our own flesh and blood. We are lukewarm and passionless and we like it that way. This should not be a matter of young or old but a matter of the condition of our hearts.

Where is our passion for Christ as we sit on the sideline smugly saying something new won’t work? Are we so bored with life we won’t even consider the enthusiasm of the young? “It won’t work” we say. Our churches languish in the same old rut. How many people have come to know the Lord in our church in the last year? What, as a church, have you been praying for? Or have you prayed at all?

Let’s look forward; let’s not worship at the altar of ‘the god of things as they are’. Let’s leave room for the working of “THE Living God.” What have we in the church left unchallenged as we worship at the altar of “the god of things as they are”?

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