What are the giants that threaten the Christian Church today? Atheism? Secularism? Materialism? Self-indulgence? Ego? Immorality? Lethargy and Apathy? A culture of death and violence? A context of division and hatred? An aging church? The lack of resources? Lives that claim to be Christian but live as if Christ makes no discernable difference in words and actions?
Giants always line up to crush the movement of God in this world. They snarl and threaten. They boast and dominate the landscape. Their shadows loom over what appears to be a helpless, weak and harried huddle of little people who confess the name of Jesus. The mighty swords and battle-axes of giants rattle threats. The shouts of behemoth adversaries of God’s Kingdom mute the small voices of believers.
And we become frightened. We worry. Our confidence wanes. We begin to wonder if the statistics and the trends and the prognosticators and the pundits will prove to be correct. We fret that the forces of corruption and evil might win the day. We feel like our own sinful incapability and indolence will hold sway.
But then, in the presence of mighty Goliath and his counterparts, little David steps onto the field of battle. You know what happened next.
At a recent visit to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I came across the striking depiction of David and Goliath in a sculpture by Yaacov Heller presented to President Ford in 1974. It is pictured with this article. Look at the movement of this sculpture. The giant hurtles backward, his weapons uselessly flying into oblivion. His face is frozen with the shock of death and defeat. He has no footing, no strength, no chance.
And look at David: determined, pushing forward, impossibly victorious with his flimsy sling and unflinching faith. Read the whole account in 1 Samuel 17.
This is Jesus and the cross against the sins of the whole world. This is the posture of the church of Jesus Christ in the world. This is the real stance of the Gospel in the face of giants. This is the spirit that saturates our mission as God’s people. This is why we press forward in proclaiming the Gospel, planting churches, and promoting the saving truth of life in the crucified and risen Son of God.
Look at the picture. This is your life as one who holds out the Word of life. This is our life together as God’s people, His precious Church. Name your most threatening giant. It cannot stand up against the advance of God’s message of Grace. Jesus promised that even the gates of hell could never prevail against the advance of church armed with the Word of God (Matthew 16:18). Texas District, let’s keep moving forward in mission!
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By Rev. Michael Newman
President, LCMS Texas District