Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts from "The Three Amigos" circa 1986

Paige and I decided to watch The Three Amigos the other night because we're awesome. At one point in the movie, Steve Martin's character (Lucky Day) utters the following statement:

In a way, all of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be *the actual* El Guapo!”

I absolutely adore the humor employed in exposing this nonsensicial sentiment often applied to preaching through Bible texts (particularly the Old Testament as though it were not about Jesus and were about us).

The ridiculousness of comparing shyness to imminent physical harm is absurd. That is the joke and Steve Martin expected you to laugh.. I love that the comedic value of this device was so apparent.  That is not to say this was a diatribe regarsding preaching, but rather that this principle of making everything about you is a skill set.  In principle, I have observed this phenomenon saturating a lot of what is passing for preaching.

Have you ever heard been asked, "What is your Goliath?" or "What is your Jordan?"  Now I get what some of these people often mean when they use these examples, but still it meets with resistance in my spirit at the suspicion of what could be meant by it. 

First of all:  David and Goliath is NOT a story about YOU!  You arrogant, self-absorbed, self-righteous jerk.  Everything should not have to be about you in order for you to care about it or to be relevant.  The Bible is relevant because it is, not because it appeals or applies to you in each and every circumstance in a "this for that" transaction. .

Second of all: The Bible is about Jesus.  David and Goliath is part of the metanarrative that is the revelation of the Messiah.  Some stories historically demonstrate God's preservation of the people through whom the Christ would arrive in fulfillment of His specific promise.  Some stories are documented as types and shadows of who the Christ will be.  Jesus is the Old Testament and the fulfillment thereof.

Lastly: Whatever your Goliath is, it is not "the actual" Goliath.  We all have difficulties to overcome and crosses to carry and none of them are Goliath or The Cross carried by Christ.  That is not to dismiss real pain and trial, but is to say that yours and David's were two different trials specific to you.

I know what people often mean when they employ this strategy of providing application points for the congregation.  I know the need to provide a "take home."  But sometimes the take home is pondering the glory of God in Christ and His faithfulness to fulfill His promises through unfaithful people.  Sometimes there is not a "to do" application for you. .

A story about Moses climbing Sinai may just be a historical event about which the relevance is mined in knowing how that event has shaped our present.  The task is not to discover or infer what our Sinai is, was, or will be.  Maybe for us, there is no Sinai.  And THAT'S OK!  it's not about you. If you have an hour and want to understand this better.  Click HERE.


  1. wow, you really conquered the goliath of my need to insert myself into the bible. i love the slingshot that is your blog.

  2. Amen. Andrew and I talked about this, too. I recently was asked through a study I'm doing on Genesis 1 "In what ways is your past or present or present life 'formless'?". Hmmm...when did God creating the Earth become about me and my life? However, I do have to say that despite the questions that made me squirmy, the study was good and God gently encouraged me to be a little more humble about how I approached it. The coolest thing I realized this time reading Genesis 1? When He created the stars, He said "let them be for signs and seasons...". Before He even made man, he made one of the ways he would point to His Son, a star. Cool.
    Emily V.

  3. Agreed Emily V. It is not to say that God cannot use our this over-actualized methodology to produce genuine insight into Him and His Gospel. He can and He does speak through silly men and their silly words and praise God for it!