Summary: The Israelites show up for Battle but are delayed because they allow Goliath to define the terms of battle. God's people need to get into the valley because it isn't fought on the hillside.
Showing Up For Battle
Preached on Sunday, July 29, 2012
This is one of the most difficult sermons I have ever had to preach. I thought it would be Wednesday evening’s Bible Study, but the Lord would not let me escape preaching it on Sunday morning.
The story found in our text is a familiar one. It is David facing Goliath. I wish to use it in an allegorical manner. For our purposes this morning I want us to assume that the Israelite Army is representative of the church and the Philistine Army is representative of the enemies of the church and the faith.
We find both armies facing each other, prepared for Battle. However, forty days after they arrived at the place for battle there was still no fighting. Why not? Both armies were there.
David is sent to his brothers and even brings some food for the commander. Jesse, David’s father sent him looking for “assurances” (The NIV footnote indicates that he was expecting some sort of spoils of war to be coming back his way) In other words, Jesse didn’t send his sons into battle so much as to defend the people of God and their land, but at the very least had an ulterior motive of expecting to receive some sort of financial/physical recompense for sending them to fight.
So while the people of God were present, some had the wrong motives for showing up for battle. Isn’t this the way it is in every church? Some folks are present for “fire insurance” so that they can escape Hell. Some folks show up because their friends are there or to please their parents. Some folks use the church as a place to make business connections. Some folks just attend out of tradition. Wherever you have people gathered in the name of the Lord you are likely to have people who are there for the wrong reasons. I might mention “Simon the Sorcerer” from the book of Acts who appears to have been following Christianity because of the miracles and in hopes of learning the apostles’ “secrets.”
Let’s not fault the Israelite Army, though. At least they showed up, and lined up for battle. Then, something stopped them. For forty days, this giant Goliath came out and challenged them. He threw out his terms.. He wanted a champion to come and fight.
Here’s where our allegory starts becoming even more interesting. Goliath attempted to redefine the terms of the battle as a one on one affair and the Israelites let him do so. The world consistently tries to define the work of the church and a local church that allows the world to define their work is going to be in trouble. Our mission statement is clear—it is called the GREAT COMMISSION.. Our goal is to reach people for Christ and then to grow people in Christ. Teaching people to live for Jesus Christ and to abide in his ways is the goal of the church. EVERYTHING that the church does must stem from or aim at this goal. If the church has a Christian School ministry it is to reach young people for Christ and to train them in the faith. If a church feeds hungry people it must do so for the purpose of sharing the gospel to those hungry people. Feeding hungry people is NOT the work of the church. Reaching people with the gospel message is the work of the church.
The world seeks to redefine the mission of the church. Many churches have become distracted with business of turning their church into a charity program and neglecting the gospel. Churches have tried to become a social club for troubled youth and once again neglect the gospel. Every ministry of a church must FOCUS on the gospel of Jesus Christ and disciplined living. This includes POTLUCK FELLOWSHIPS and GOSPEL CONCERTS.
In the text, we can see that when David arrived, the Israelites lined up for warfare and shouted the war cry. Let’s give them credit, they lined up, reported to the front lines, and were willing to shout defiance. The sad thing is that they stopped there.
Across America, on Sunday mornings, millions of people attend church. They show up and sing praise, they give their offerings, they pray, they listen to the sermon. They were present and accounted for and vocal in their faith. However, they stop short of going down in the Valley where the enemy is. They are willing to shout praise. They enjoy the “fun” and “easy” stuff. They are comfortable in the camp with the rest of the army, but they are unwilling to go down into the valley where the fight is to take place. This morning, I want to tell this congregation that the fight is not fought in the chapel of the church on Sunday morning. That’s the CAMP.. the battle is fought in your homes, at your school or workplace, in your neighborhood, where you shop, where you go to the ballgame. Your Christian faith must be a part of your daily routine, all day long, all night long.. when you wake and when you sleep. The evil one, Satan, wants to convince the church that they have done their duty just by showing up for church and singing some hymns or praise songs. The test of you spiritual walk isn’t how well you sing “How Great is Our God” or “How Great Thou Art.”