This is the text of a ‘Credo’ column I wrote for the Newark Advertiser and which appeared in today’s edition.
Many of us, whether Christian or not, have heard the Bible story of David and Goliath. The young boy David fights the Philistine giant Goliath. No one thinks he has a chance, but David kills the giant with his sling. The term ‘David and Goliath’ has gone on to be used in describing any situation where an underdog triumphs over a stronger opponent, particularly in a sporting context.
This is not the last time we read about David in the Bible. In fact he goes on to be Israel’s greatest king, winning favour with God. The Jews were looking for their messiah to be a new King David. Later Jesus was to be known as a ‘Son of David’ and the gospel writer Matthew and Luke both made much of the assertion that Jesus was a descendant of David.
So what was so good about David? Well it was David who united the nation and established Jerusalem as the capital. He subdued Israel’s enemies, including the Philistines. He also wrote many of the worship songs known as the Psalms, which are still used today. Truly a great king and an example to us all.
But what’s this we read? Could it be this same David who, seeing the beautiful Bathsheba taking a bath, and despite knowing that she was already married to a man named Uriah, had his servants bring her to him, slept with her and made her pregnant? And who then arranged for Uriah to be sent away to fight in the front line of the army with an instruction that his commanders let him be killed?
Well yes it was indeed the same David. An adulterer and a murderer. Hardly the type of person to look up to and emulate.
Of course David was a human being. Just like you and me he had his good points and his not so good points. He couldn’t claim to be perfect, and neither can any of us. But he could still be used by God.
Sometimes people look at Christians and don’t like what they see. They see that Christians aren’t always living up to their own ideals. They hear of Christians that do all sorts of things wrong. They read of church leaders getting drunk and violent, or taking drugs, or absconding with church funds, and rightly condemn these acts.
But the thing is – being a Christian doesn’t make you perfect and no true Christian would claim to be. Just like David, Christians have their virtues and their vices. As St Paul wrote ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’
So don’t think you need to be an especially good type of person to go to church. Just come along and join the rest of us sinners – we’d love to see you. And God will find a use for you too.