Monday, August 29, 2011

David and Goliath

Ok. So the more I've been thinking about the difference between description and prescription (like here), the more I can see how confused even we Christians are about what this life with Jesus is all about. Let me give you an example.

Ever go to Sunday School? I wonder if you learned about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Or maybe you got to help pin Mommy and Daddy Giraffe on a felt board climbing onto Noah's Ark. Or maybe you learned about how David killed Goliath. I certainly did. I'll tell you what else I learned. I thought the "moral of the story" (ironically) is that I'm supposed to be brave like Moses, obedient like Noah, and strong like David. Moral lessons. I thought they were a bunch of isolated stories that terminated on themselves, but could teach me a thing or two about being a good girl. In fact, I used to wonder if I was "good" enough to be in a Bible story!

But here's why that complicates things. Intellectually, I believe the Gospel: I'm not god- I can't save myself. I can't "earn" a good standing before God, but Jesus Christ earned it for me by living a perfect life and taking my sin to the Cross- and it is through trusting in His work alone that I am made alive, adopted as God's child, and sealed for eternity. Look at all those fancy terms even! Justified, sanctified, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as a guarantee of my inheritance...I could rattle off lots of Scripture references and fill out a mean mission-trip application.

But all of those fancy terms and all of that intellectual knowledge about God being Savior can still fall on a "self-saving" heart. I can preach "the Gospel of grace" all day long, and secretly live the "moral lesson" kind of life. I can still read the story of David and Goliath and think, "OK- how can I impress God today by fighting my own personal Goliath?" I can claim that I am saved by Christ alone and then put my "to-do" list on the scale, measure my spiritual muscles, and once again believe that a description of life with God- being rich in good works- is the prescription for life with God.

So anyway, back to David and Goliath. If God is truly Savior, not me, then am I really David in the story? Or am I Israel, cowering on the sidelines while an Anointed One defeats Goliath on my behalf? Am I really Noah, blameless and upright before God and preserved because of my good works? Or am I helpless Mommy Giraffe, saved from destruction purely through of the blameless work of Another? Am I to see myself as Moses, hoping to go down in history for my impressive deeds, or am I a little slave girl following Jesus- My Deliverer- out from under the bondage of Pharaoh?

Being made strong like David, obedient like Noah, and brave like Moses are happening. But those things are happening because of Another who has been my David, my Noah, my Moses. They are descriptions of the life that has been won for me by Christ Jesus, not the means by which I received it in the first place.

1 comment:

not a slave said...

I really appreciated your last paragraph in this essay. I think both extremes are dangerous--1) looking only at the moral feats of the Biblical saints and ignoring the grace of God behind it all, or 2) ignoring the moral feats of the Biblical saints and therefore ignoring the grace of God behind it all. God's grace does both; it saves us from eternal death (separation from God), but also saves us from death now--that is, sin. The saints are really only broken people who through God's grace were able to become "partakers of the divine nature" (1 Peter). I think the thing we are supposed to go away with from those stories is not "hopefully I can be good enough to be in a Bible story!" like you said, but I think Satan can also trick us into thinking the appropriate response is "I'll never be like that so thank God that He just took care of everything and I don't have to worry about it anymore." That response ignores the fact that sin still kills us and keeps us from the life God desires for us. The beauty of redemption is that because God DID buy us back, we CAN be made like him. Moses, David, Noah, Job, Ruth, Esther, Abraham, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, Micah--ISRAEL--were all real people. They all really were broken, but they all really were changed by God's grace in order to become people we can look to as examples of what a life moved by God can become!