As David is to Goliath, so the faith of Christ is to counterfeit religion. Goliath, a giant among humanity; a huge bronze helmet, heavy bronze armor, a powerful iron spear, and a shield carried by others. Intimidation, insults, and bully tactics are his strength. David, just a young shepherd; the memory and experience of God’s grace; without the weight of human vanity, a staff, a sling and a stone. Belief in who God says He is empowers him. Goliath fights with the fury of humanity; David, the power of heavenly forces (read 1Sam.17:1-49).
The church, in its religious form, is driven by the might of human desire; measured by the size of its head-gear, the weight of its defense mechanisms, the vulgar display of its judgment, and the numbers enslaved by its own fear. Yet, in the faith of Christ, the Church is the mission of God’s grace; expressing the love of God to humanity, living in and out of the story of a tree (the staff), a purpose (the sling) and a grave (the stone), and is immeasurable by human means.
Religion comes in many forms, but it is always motivated by the human will. The faith of Christ is a singular force, and it is always inspired and expressed by the Spirit of God. Religion is transference – the vanity of humanity onto God. The faith of Christ is transformation – the character of God into humanity. Religion dictates; faith leads. Religion enables admirers; faith equips followers. Religion produces adherents to itself; faith reproduces disciples of Christ. Religion envelopes; faith pushes the envelope. Religion is bondage to human sin. Faith is freedom from it. Fallen humanity is on display in religion, where redeemed humanity is seen through faith.
Goliath, true to form, was agitating David again as religious leaders hurled insults at Jesus at Golgotha. Religion has its own ideas of what God should be and what God should do. It donned its armor, helmet and shield, and brandished its spear as the leaders demanded that Jesus come down off the cross (if He really was the Rescuer of humanity). Jesus meets the onslaught armed with only faith – Faith in who God says that God is; faith that the agony of the cross is God’s plan and purpose; faith that generated life – the faith of Christ that slays the giant.
David and Goliath meet again, today, as the church battles within itself – the faith of Christ Vs. religion. Goliath is running his mouth. David is collecting stones. Humanity is encamped around the battlefield. Goliath plays the fool for the crowd. David dances with God. Religion assumes outer appearance. Faith believes inner identity. Religion offers ultimatums. Faith, eternity…