Goliath. A massive man I’d rather have on my side in any dispute, yet for Israel he stood on the other side. And he would stand there daily, hurling the usual taunts to the Israelites who perhaps were glad that’s all he would hurl. Someone would need to face this giant, yet everyone was terrified, the fear gripping the king, Saul, and trickling down through the troops. No one would come forward. Until David, of course. (See 1st Samuel 17 for the full story)
In my fifteen years of being a pastor I have come to realise that there is a giant facing the typical Canadian Christian today. It is something that strikes fear to the young and old alike. It causes trembling even among Christians more mature in their faith. That giant is evangelism. Yes, the thought that we can verbally share our faith, speaking with others about Jesus, fills many with terror. So much so that it is rationalised away as being someone else’s responsibility, or as something that does not belong in our pluralistic nation. David and Goliath have something to teach us about facing this giant facing the Christian.
- We face the giant with an anointing. If we back up one chapter we will find that David is anointed by Samuel to be the future king. He is not just a shepherd, when he faces Goliath, he is the one chosen by God to someday lead the nation. Goliath is his opportunity to show his courage and leadership which contrasts sharply with Saul’s. Also in contrast to Saul, David is able to see the big picture. Where Saul saw a giant facing ordinary men, David saw a Philistine who would dare to “defy the armies of the living God” (1st Samuel 17:26). Where Saul saw danger, David saw the protective hand of God (verse 37). We have an anointing as we face this giant called evangelism: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV). Do we see the opportunities and hand of God? Knowing this anointing let us show the courage and leadership of David as we help others come to know the love Lordship of Christ.
- The anointing for evangelism is despite appearances. David did not appear to be the best pick for facing Goliath. There is a reason he was the one left behind with the sheep while his brothers went off to battle. But David did not appear to be the best pick for being king either. In chapter 16 Samuel knew that the Lord had chosen one of Jesse’s sons as future king, but as each son passed by, each seeming fit for the job, the Lord passed on them. Coming to David God made his choice clear. The unlikely one. Feel an unlikely candidate for being an evangelist? Not cut out for the task? Join the club. Your anointing for evangelism is not based on what you appear to be cut out for.
- One must be genuine to face a giant. Saul offered David his armour, which David dutifully tried on. However, David knew that it simply was not going to work. He will face Goliath not as a warrior in armour, but as a shepherd boy with a sling and a stick. We all know how that turned out. Do you know how many Billy Grahams there are in the world? One. And you are not he! We cannot face the giant of evangelism as anything but who we are and who we are genuinely becoming in Christ. We must be authentic when we help others find faith. Trying to be someone we are not is uncomfortable and leaves us ineffective. Let us find the style and words that fit us.
- The anointing will be lost through disobedience. Before David met Goliath he was anointed to be king. Before David was anointed to be king, Saul was rejected as king. Why? He was disobedient (see chapter 15). He thought it better to act as king than act as servant to God. If we will not make ourselves available to God to reach others, if we will not be passionate about those He is passionate about, he will find someone who is. I believe entire churches lose their anointing for evangelism. If a church will not reach people for Christ, God will find one that will. And so as a friend once said, “the mainline church of Canada has become the sidelined church of Canada.” Let us not shrink back in fear. Let us face this giant with confidence in and obedience to the One who has anointed us to serve Him and the world He loves.