Fighting Fire with Marshmallows


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 63; 149, 1 Samuel 17:31-49, Acts 11:1-18, Mark 1:14-28

The outcome of the battle between David and Goliath is such a famous tale of victory for the plucky underdog that it doesn’t need retelling. What happened before, during David’s preparation for the battle, gets less press but has some good lessons for us.

When King Saul realized the young farm boy was determined to face off against the Philistine giant, he put David in his own armor and gave him his own sword to use. David, unused to the armor, couldn’t even walk in it, so he took it off to face Goliath with his staff, some stones, and a sling. To Goliath – and no doubt to seasoned warriors on both sides – this looked like foolishness.

David was smart. He knew he couldn’t survive by engaging on his opponent’s terms, and refused to be lured into them. Whether our battlefield is physical or intellectual, let’s be equally smart. For example, some segments of Christianity seem to be at war with science, and also seem to think the path to victory is to reinvent the the Bible as scientifically accurate. That’s not what it’s for, and trying to prove otherwise is a losing venture which only undermines its real value and purpose. There are no GMO fruits of the Spirit, so let’s trust what we grow is good enough.

David was also wise enough not to feel pressured into using the tactics of his allies when they didn’t fit the situation. It’s not that he wasn’t willing to listen; he did try on the armor before deciding it was a bad fit. He just knew from past experience what skills served him best. Sometimes people on our side of a divide think they need to employ the tactics of our adversaries to keep up or pay them back. That’s why fake news, name calling, and ridiculously broad generalizations are not the exclusive domain of any single political party … and why they result in so little progress.

Like our young shepherd-turned-hero, let’s trust in the strengths God has given us, the ones that come not from fear, but from faith.

Additional Reading:
For additional readings from today’s passage from Mark, see Fool Me or Evangelize vs. Evange-lies.
For more thoughts on today’s passage from Acts, see Astounding Gifts.

Comfort: With God’s help, no obstacle is too large.

Challenge: When you are engaged in conflict, especially if you have time to pre-plan, think about whether your responses lead to resolution or further conflict.

Prayer: Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)

Discussion: When have you beat the odds?

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