The pressure is on me. This is a lie that I tell myself constantly. The pressure is on me to get people into God's Word. The pressure is on me to transform people and help them repent of their sin. The pressure is on me to convict.
It's a debilitating lie, because it assumes that I am God. It sounds silly. It sounds exhausting. And yet, I often find my default setting on pressure and responsibility rather than faithful, joyful service to my dear King and Savior. One more bible study, one more discipleship, one more talk or sermon. All to impact people. It's all on me. Can you relate?
I'd bet that you and I aren't so different. And I'd bet there's one thing we do that makes it harder to serve in glad submission, and instead grasp hold to the idea that we are heroes under pressure: We see ourselves as the wrong character.
You heard me. We see ourselves as the wrong character. When we read the bible, particularly when we read narratives, we run into a lot of interpretive issues. One that I have fallen prey to is plugging myself in as the wrong character in the story. Take David and Goliath. We read the story, see David's courage for standing up to the giant when no one else could, and then ask how we can have courage like David.
"I can be courageous by sharing my faith with that really scary person!"
"I can be courageous by standing up to my boss!"
Whatever the application is, we hear those, and then we try really really hard to be whatever attribute we see in the biblical character. Sometimes we fail immediately. Other times, however, we do well. We beef up our bravado when we are told to be courageous. We speak truth because we want to prove we are men and women after God's own heart! We sacrifice because, well, what would Jesus do (WWJD)? And then, at just the right moment, we fail hard, and we're broken.
I've often felt this way with lust. I'm just not going to think about it. I'm going to be pure! I'm going to win! And then, as I succeed, I brim with pride and fail harder than I expected to. And here's the deep lie: "How could I have failed like this?"
I failed like that because I'm not David, and more importantly, I'm not Jesus.
Matt Chandler spoke about this passage, and shared something very helpful. "David and Goliath is not about you overcoming the major giants in your life because that would make you David, and you're not David... you are the cowardly Israelites over in the corner going 'what are we going to do! He's (Goliath) talking so mean to us!' Jesus is David, slaughtering the giant of sin and death. You're not the point."
Do you see what he's implying? We often run to the hero of the story, because we too often think the bible is about us and our victory. But we're not the central figure. It's not about us. It's about Jesus. Jesus is the hero. Jesus is the focal point. Jesus is David.
"But, if Jesus is David, and I'm a cowering Israelite, what exactly am I supposed to do? Aren't I supposed to live a good Christian life and be courageous and do awesome stuff?"
Yes. But we failed. We're dead. Ever since the fall in Genesis 3. It's a good thing that Jesus did live the perfect "Christian" life and gave His life courageously as the greatest act in human history.
The point of the bible, the central message always points to Christ and Him crucified. Don't put the pressure of being David on you. Instead, escape to the cross.
Escape to the cross by asking how Jesus is "the greater David."
Escape to the cross by asking where you fall short of the great heroes of old.
Escape to the cross by seeing how Jesus covers all your sin.
Escape to the cross so Jesus can transform you.