Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

The Real Big Guy

June 24th:

Call:   Psalm 9 (749)
Text:   1 Samuel 17 (entire chapter)

                The Real Big Guy

David and Goliath!

You know the story!
I know the story!
Christians and Jews throughout the entire world know the story.

In fact, I'll bet this story is better known
        By people who have never set foot in a church or a synagogue
        By people who have never even opened a Bible
Than any other scripture.

And I'll bet too that the terms "David and Goliath"
        are used on secular occasions
                Sporting events, political campaigns
                Contests of all sorts
More than any other scripture terms.

This morning, I'd like to read the story to you.                [1 Samuel 17]

When the story ends, don't you just want to stand up and cheer.


This little guy - a mere boy -
        Stood up to a human menace so large that
                King Saul and his soldiers were too intimidated to face him.
                And cowered before him.

And not only did this little guy stand up to that giant menace
        He "whupped" him good!
        He knocked him down and he destroyed him
        No longer were the Israelites going to quake in fear of Goliath.

If we were not so constrained by trying to exercise refinement and proper decorum in the sanctuary,
        You and I would have leaped to our feet and shouted
                "Hallelujah!"
                "Great job David!"
                "Take that, you Philistines!"
And hopefully   "Thank you God!"

We feel like applauding, laughing, dancing, and crying.

We feel like
getting on our computers and our notebooks, and our cell phones
        and contacting others with the good news
                "Let me tell you about what David did."

[pause]
This joy and excitement is a lot different than what we felt last week.

For that week's scripture about God getting upset with Saul
        Got us upset with God.
Upset   Because we didn't think it fair for God to be so angry at Saul
for sparing rather than killing the Amalekite king
Upset   Because we didn't think it fair for God to be so angry at Saul
for not slaughtering all of the Amalekite animals
                Instead bringing the best home
to offer as a sacrifice to the very God
who was so upset over it that he told Samuel
"I regret having made Saul king."

And it was only after we came to understand
that what God was angry about was
        Saul's having substituted his own judgment
        For God's judgment.
That we could begrudgingly accept the scripture.
        And start taking its lesson to heart.

Last week we didn't have any desire to cheer.
This week, we can scarcely restrain ourselves.

But I would suggest that a subtle danger lurks in
our enthusiastic and often uncritical response
to David's dramatic and inspiring victory over Goliath.

For it is very easy to cheer God        for being on our side

And so, as we hear this story
 we cheer what we perceive as
God being on the side of David and the Israelites.

It is easy to cheer God for being on the side we want to win
        Whether in sports, in politics, in arguments - or       in war.

This week marks the sesquicentennial of the death of Samuel Marsh
        Physician, teacher, and Methodist preacher
        Part of our congregation
Who was mortally wounded several hundred miles south of here
        In Gaines Mill, VA      At the end of June 1862
        During a battle                 of a war        that pitted brother against brother
                With each army believing that God was on its side.

Thinking that God is on our side                is backwards reasoning
It is selfish and self centered thinking
It is an ignorant approach to our relationship with God.

For the question is not whether God is on our side
The question is                 whether we are on God's side.

When we ask the wrong question, it is the equivalent of thinking
        That God works for us
Instead of understanding
        That we work for God.

I believe that this faulty way of thinking poisons our relationship
        And lessens our love, our respect, and our obedience for our God.

I believe that if we are to call ourselves Christians
        We have to get this question right
And that we then have to strive to answer the correct question
        By figuring out what it is that God wants us to do
                And who it is that God wants us to be.
We want to do that,     but we can't if we ask the wrong question.

For the past five Sundays,we've been preparing to get the question right

On the first of those Sundays
        Christ at his ascension told us, charged us, and commissioned us
                To be his witnesses and to make disciples for him.

On the second of those Sundays
        The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples
                Empowering them and empowering us
                Assuring them and assuring us
                        That we could do what we were charged to do.

On the third
        We met ourselves        in a man named Nicodemus
                Who sought to follow Christ
                But who struggled because he thought like a human being
                And apparently struggled successfully
                        for he was the one who helped Joseph of Arimathea
place Jesus in the tomb.

        We talked that day about beginning our graduate work or on the job training.
Using Nicodemus as an example of
who we are and how we think
                and as an example of
                        who we can be if we keep seeking and struggling.

Then on the fourth and fifth Sundays
        We encountered ourselves again
First in the Israelites demanding a king
                And then in Saul, the first of those kings
        Learning that we often
                Both collectively and individually
                Substitute our judgment for God's

And now today we discover in one of the best known scriptural stories
        The fatal flaw in our relationship with God:
                Our desiring to have God on our side
                Instead of desiring that we be on God's side.

It is essential that
  we recognize our flawed way of approaching our relationship with God

If we do,
And if we put our minds to our graduate work or on the job training
        With prayer and worship
With serving, giving, and loving
        In a way that demonstrates that we understand
                        that what we do to the least of the people
                        we do to Christ,
Then like Nicodemus
        We will come to understand what we should do
        And will become effective witnesses and disciple makers
                For Jesus Christ.

Goliath was a really big man    and he lost
God is the Real Big "Man"               and God always wins
        I for one,      want to be on God's side