Glorifying God through our Uniqueness
by Erica Green
Glorifying God through our Uniqueness: Doing it our way - With God's help
For those of us who have grown up in a Christian household, we are all familiar with the Old Testament stories from our Sabbath school or Sunday school days, so much so that we often do not take much notice of them. It is only when we have cause to review them, as adults, that we sometimes find new angles and new depths. I had cause the other day to take another look at the story of David and Goliath. You can find the whole story in the chapter of 1 Samuel 17 if you want to review the whole story.
The story starts something like this. The battle lines had been drawn up between the Israelites and the Philistines, with each camped on hill tops separated by a valley. From the Philistine camp, Goliath shouted daily taunts and insults across the hill at the Israelites and amongst other things laid down an alternate battle plan. Victory for this battle was to be settled upon the fight to the death between Goliath and one man chosen from the Israelite camp. Now Goliath was no pee wee. He was a 9 foot tall fighting machine, fully kitted out in armor so heavy that most soldiers would have difficulty lifting. So is it any wonder that the Philistines were feeling pretty cocky in their demand or that Saul and all the Israelites were feeling quite anxious? (1 Samuel 17:1-11) Long story short, after 40 days of taunting, the shepherd boy David comes by and volunteers to go into battle with Goliath.
"Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. "I cannot go in these," he said to Saul, "because I am not used to them." So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine." (1 Samuel 17:38-40, NIV)
Let's start with Saul's role in this story. It was only after much persuasion, that Saul even allowed David to go and fight Goliath. Once he had given his consent, his next task was to ensure that David was properly outfitted for the encounter. For Saul "properly equipped" meant only one thing. There was only one method of fighting and that was the way in which he was skilled. There was only one class of equipment for war and that was the regulation gear that he himself had been trained with. So he set out to equip David for the battle in his own armor:- The coat of armor; The helmet of brass; and a heavy sword. In my experience, guys do not lend their gear to just anybody and Saul no doubt did this with the best possible intentions, however, in so doing, Saul was doing David a great disservice.
Now for a closer look at David's role. When David put on Saul's armor he found it to be more of a hindrance than a help. He could barely move his body, let alone maneuver it in battle. He could hardly even lift the sword, let alone brandish it successfully. David took a brave step that day and declined to be an impersonation (a poor one at that) of Saul and instead sallied forth in the clothing and with the equipment that he was accustomed to and skilled in:- Shepherd's dress; A sling shot; and Five stones. This was hardly what you would call giant fighting gear. I dare say that Saul was bemused as he saw David go forth with what he considered to be pitifully inadequate weaponry and protection. Goliath certainly mocked him when he saw him approach.
David went into battle as himself that day and let God use who and what he was. "So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him." (1 Samuel 17:50)
There was one conventional method of fighting and Saul was convinced that David should adopt it but that which was appropriate for Saul, was not appropriate for David. We too make a mistake if we attempt to stifle uniqueness in Christian service or worship, whether by self infliction or through imposition on others.
No one can fight effectively in the Christian warfare with borrowed weapons. Second hand opinion and beliefs will not do. In order to work effectively for Christ's cause, we must have convictions that are our own, beliefs which we ourselves have proved. The church may be all set to provide us with a readymade list of fundamental beliefs, but the only beliefs that are worth anything are those beliefs that are part and parcel of our own experience.
No one can fight effectively outside of their own skill set and abilities. God does not want you to try and be somebody that you are not. As with David, He has given specific skills, abilities and experiences to you for a reason.
God wants you and me to be fully who we are, with our unique views, capabilities and gifts. We rob ourselves and God if we try to be poor copies of somebody else. If we are true to God and ourselves we will glorify Him, as no one in the entire universe, past, present or future can.
As an individual, give me confidence in who I am and in what I believe. I also ask for sufficient bravery, to step on up to the giants in my life. Bravery that is firmly founded in an attitude of reliance on you.
As a Christian colleague and mentor, help me to be secure enough in my relationship with you and with others, to encourage individuals to let their uniqueness shine through, in a way that only they can broaden the body of Christ.
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