The Unheard Story of David and Goliath
Malcolm Gladwell is an accomplished writer, author of numerous bestselling books and a gifted storyteller. In a recent TED talk Gladwell offers fresh insights on the story of David and Goliath and discovers creative ways to look at the ancient story. Gladwell is not a theologian, which gives him a unique perspective to revisit a story we think we already know. The video is well worth 15 minutes of your time.
The story of David and Goliath has been a timeless metaphor for anyone facing overwhelming odds, forced to confront the giants that appear invincible, or attempting to do the impossible. What if, as Gladwell suggests, the battle was a mismatch from the beginning, just not the way we always thought of when we heard the story.
God knows you probably feel like you’re fighting a battle that seems impossible to win. The odds are stacked against you. The giants are very real. You’re tasked with leading a church in a post-Christian world. You preach the Gospel in a culture where the fastest growing category of people self-identify as “Nones”- meaning they have no affiliation or desire to connect with tradition forms of religion or faith communities. You carry out your work and calling amid diminished resources, declining influence and genuine uncertainty about the future of the church you love.
So, what if we read the story of David and Goliath, and we got it all wrong? What if we took a second look at our own story to see where we were wrong? What if the odds were surprisingly stacked in our favor? What if the giants we face really aren’t as invincible as they first appear to be?
Here’s what you have going into battle:
1. The Truth
The world longs to know the truth; the truth about life, about ourselves and the world we live in. Deep down people desperately want someone to tell them the truth. They’re bone tired of the lies they’ve been fed about success and all the things the world tells us we need to be happy. We all know it’s a lie. We bought into the notion that it’s every person for themselves, there is no responsibility to anyone else but yourself. We believe it, which explains why we’re so utterly vapid, empty and miserable. Jesus described a life worth living and a life worthy of God. Love your neighbor, give yourself away in love and service to each other, live with grace and compassion. Treat others as you want to be treated. You have the truth. To a world chained and enslaved by a false notion of the “good life,” remind them again of what Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Somewhere along the line we stopped offering Jesus and instead began offering the world better programs, bigger buildings and better sermon series. No wonder they said, “Thanks but no thanks.” They can find that anywhere. The only thing distinguishing us from any other civic organization, self-help movement or philanthropic endeavor is Jesus. No one gets fundamentally transformed by better programs, bigger buildings or better sermon series. We forgot to offer the only thing we knew could change the world.
I could go on, but I’ll stop here. Maybe you think it’s too naïve, too simplistic. Maybe you think the world is too complicated, the church too far gone, the issues too complex to boil it down to two simple things we’re missing; Jesus and the truth.
All I know is those are the only two things going for the early church struggling to survive amid a hostile religious environment and the full oppression of the Roman Empire. Of course, if you really knew what the rag tag handful of unsophisticated, naïve followers of Jesus had in their arsenal going into battle, the world and all it’s so called power, never really had a chance.