“Ok, children, let’s all gather together in a circle over here. Today I’ll be telling you about David and Goliath.” Mrs. Dean was the teacher of her church’s 1st grade Sunday school class. She always had story time after everyone was present, and today the story was about David and Goliath. “Once there was a normal little shepherd boy,” she said. “He was very brave, and he protected his flocks of sheep from lions, tigers, and bears (Oh my)! One day, his father told him to go to his brothers, who were on the battlefield fighting with the Philistines. He went to them, but soon discovered that there was a mean old giant threatening his brothers’ army. The giant’s name was Goliath, and he wanted someone from Israel to fight him, but nobody had enough courage to challenge him. David, however, knew he could beat him. He tried on some of the king’s armor, but it was too big! He decided to fight with five smooth stones and a sling. He ran at the giant and hit him with a stone right between the eyes, and Israel was saved!”
What Really Happened
Does this teacher even realize what she just said? Well, for one, she’s telling her class that there was a BOY who fought off LIONS to protect his SHEEP. That means David is a young man sitting in the middle of nowhere with his flock of sheep, just watching and waiting for trouble to come so he can protect his flock. That’s incredible! How would you like to be in the middle of the wilderness with ferocious beasts? And speaking of ferocious beasts, he murdered a lion with his bare hands. That’s amazing! And what’s more impressive is what this guy does later in the story. He accepts this giant’s challenge when no one else in Israel will! He goes to fight him with no armor and only a handful of rocks. Listen to what David says to Goliath. I doubt these lines will be heard in many Sunday school classes.
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” – 1 Samuel 17:45-47
Now that’s confidence in the power of God! Isn’t it stunning how certain David is that he will utterly defeat Goliath for God’s glory? He knows what his King can do! What happens next is quite a spectacle as well.
“When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.” – 1 Samuel 17: 48-49
Doesn’t that just leave you speechless? When it finally comes down to the moment, David not only accomplishes exactly what he said, but he runs at the Philistine and kills him with one measly stone! This is might! This is faith! This is the greatness of God!
What’s Being Taught Today
Let me tell you, this is a far cry from what’s being taught in Sunday school today. This is meant to be an awesome story of the victory that the Lord can give us when we put our complete trust in him, but it’s become nothing more than a fairy tale! That’s what this post is about. If we’re going to tell our kids Bible stories, we should show them the true value of the grandeur before them. We should NOT tell these majestic tales with smiling faces and soft voices, while in effect we remove the power of the Scriptures’ words and diminish the glory given to our God tenfold. Yet that’s exactly what so many are doing! This theme of the Church is especially obvious in Sunday school, as well as in t-shirts, billboards, and other attempted forms of appealing to the world in order the share the Gospel. Here’s one piece of advice: It’s not working out so well!
T-shirts and The Gospel
I know that making shirts with John 3:16 on them isn’t wrong, and I know that using signs and other methods of spreading the Word isn’t exactly a sin. But if used in the wrong way, these can greatly diminish the glory of God instead of increase it. Let’s think about this for a minute. When someone puts a cliché Christian phrase on a t-shirt, does that increase the glory of God? You may think so at first, but let’s look at this at a deeper level. What exactly is the Gospel? God sent his Son to die for us and to save us from our sins. In other words, the sovereign almighty being that made heaven and earth gave His Son to be murdered and separated from the Father for a broken, horrible mob of dirty sinners (namely, you and me) in order to save us from the eternity in burning blackness that we deserve. That, my friend, is the Gospel. You won’t find that on a t-shirt. Nope. On a t-shirt it goes more like this: “I am forgiven.” To a Christian, yes, that means a lot, but it’s such a stale use of language to express this unimaginable and all-important message to the world. It just doesn’t help! Wearing that t-shirt doesn’t save anyone. In fact, it gives a puny picture of the Gospel and God, and actually diminishes the glory of our Lord more than it increases it. Putting an overused phrase in a cool font on someone’s back is only going to make the Gospel seem like more of a novelty; like a new phone or the latest style of jeans. It looks pretty slick for now, but once something else comes along, it’s out of here. I know that’s not what we do, but that’s the idea that the world comes up with when we practically make a sport out of God. It’s makes us look like a fan instead of a follower, and it reduces the very real power of our Lord to a distant mythological legend that no one actually believes anymore.
You know, I’ve heard of people responding to a message on a Christian t-shirt before, which is good. But here’s the catch. That t-shirt had a red cross on it with an inscription that read: “This shirt is illegal in 51 countries.” The point is that 51 countries will not tolerate the Christian message. That’s a pretty good idea in my opinion, and also a great way to witness to a stranger at the store. Not all Christian t-shirts are useless, and not all of the rather unique ways of trying to share the Gospel diminish the glory of God. But my point is that there are far too many that DO diminish our Savior’s power, and it’s time we got rid of such things in the Church.
But what about Sunday school? This is a big one for me. It’s my belief that the vast majority of Sunday school teachers are not conveying a true view of God to their students. I know that children have a harder time understanding massive concepts like predestination and such. But kids aren’t idiots. We were all kids once, and let’s face it, we were pretty smart. We knew exactly what to say in order to make our brother look bad. We knew what would make our siblings mad. We knew how to lie, and how to get away with being naughty. We humans are very good at being evil. And if we’re smart enough to manipulate things to our advantage so well, then we’re more than capable of understanding a simple, honest explanation of what happened at the cross. If a teacher tells their student, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins,” it means almost nothing. “What’s a cross? Why did Jesus have to die for my sins? God has a son? Oh well, I guess I’ll just repeat it like a good little Christian kid.” No! That’s exactly what we DON’T want in the Church. But if a teacher says something like, “Everybody’s done evil things, and we all deserve to die and be separated from God forever, but He sent his own son, Jesus, down here to earth so that He could die for us and let us be with God,” that makes so much more sense to a child. Now it’s not just something we say. Now it’s not meaningless jargon. Now it’s Truth. Now it’s fact. Now it’s a real idea, and a very important one at that.
Say It Like You Mean It
All it takes is a down-to-earth explanation of God’s Truths to give a realistic picture of who our Lord actually is. It’s that simple. Say it like you mean it instead of saying it like you’re repeating a boring lecture for the millionth time. Say it to yourself and to others. Ask, “Do I really believe this? If so, am I respecting it in the way I describe it?” When we are a teacher of the Word, whether in 1st grade Sunday school or seminary, we need to be passionate! We need to really and honestly believe this stuff! We need to show them that we love this with all our hearts, and it’s what we strive for day in and day out! Don’t give the same old wording, the same old style, and the same old patterns. That’s just lazy, and it doesn’t show that what we’re talking about has immense importance. Say it the way you would say it! If we don’t care enough about the Truth for us to want others to understand it as an absolutely life-changing, factual historical event, then we have not yet grasped what the Gospel of Jesus Christ truly is.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-7