It was again time to choose a new study for our small group, so we voted on three options. My vote (for this study) was heavily motivated by the word “Must” in the title. I particularly liked the word because in the context it reflects on the sheer power, might, and inevitability of God’s overcoming our fears, anxieties, and troubles, while carrying an expectation of God to work in a given situation. All this without the presumption of using the word “will” that tends to come along with our expectation of timing.
The first video session of six didn’t start quite as strong as the title portrayed. Reading ahead, I had been excited for what seemed to be the direction that the study was going. Particularly since the first question in the Study Guide was the following:
What do you think is meant by living from victory as opposed to living for it? How might that play out in your life?(Goliath Must Fall Study Guide, pg. 16)
The concept described in this question was a huge turning point for me in overcoming my personal battles with anxiety and panic attacks. Probably I expected too much for how Giglio would present this enormously important truth. Unfortunately, I felt that there wasn’t enough time and Scriptural support dedicated to fleshing out this idea. When our group got to the discussion questions, it became clear that several people in our group were not convinced–or not fully understanding–the implication of the points that Giglio had made. And rightly so, I think.
Indeed, after finishing the first session and being somewhat underwhelmed, I had concerns about this being a hip, slickly produced (cool set design!) study without much meat to it. I was concerned about whether or not we should continue and wondering if I should have voted differently.
For the most part, this concern eventually went away. The second session introduced the first of Giglio’s “_________ Must Fall” categorical discussions (there are five) with “Fear Must Fall.” Giglio makes strong statements regarding anxiety and depression that I could see some people getting upset or at least a little perturbed about. Frankly, however, I was glad to hear them. Judging from the blogosphere, even the Christian world has become very comfortable the idea of anxiety and depression being primarily a medical condition of which we have little control over. I do not feel that this is a good trend.
Giglio references a battle with depression and anxiety that he clearly saw victory over; something that I can relate to, as I also realized a similar victory. My breakthrough came after encouragement from a minister even more theologically “right wing” than Giglio here. Indeed, I felt that Giglio could have gone even further than he did. I feel that we are too quick to point at outside factors out of our control and subsequently stop looking at spiritual causes. It’s good to acknowledge struggles that we are having, and it is good to become more aware of others struggling too, but it is of absolute importance not to make commiseration the primary purpose of our sharing. Giglio is good about this here. Admit the problem, get it into the light, and press in hard to the solution: Jesus Christ and the supernatural deliverance that He brings through the Spirit alive in us.
The topics after the first session–five different struggles/sins that “Must fall”–are good. However, the account of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel is stretched pretty far to apply to each of the five “Must falls” and feels a little contrived. For example, I’m not sure that we can point to Comfort (enjoying their cozy tents and supplies) as the main reason that the Israelite soldiers shrunk from taking on Goliath.
Still, the study comes through with worthwhile meditation points. In the same “Comfort Must Fall,” for example, Giglio points out how the rest of the Israelite soldiers are content to stay in their military tents, all while their God is being blasphemed from Goliath’s mouth. David arrives and can’t believe that no one has done anything about it. That is, David isn’t so much concerned about the whole killing Israel part as he is about the whole “Goliath is mocking the armies of the living God” part. When I hear God and God’s children being mocked, do I ever do anything? Say anything? There’s much less at stake, and sometimes I still don’t do anything. This was convicting.
Overall, the video study for Goliath Must Fall was good. Not as good as I was hoping, but good. I’m totally on board with the “more than conquerors through Christ” message of much of the study. The church needs more of that. However, basing most of the Scriptural support on the story of David and Goliath–where some of the application may be a little forced–gives it weaker legs than this message deserves.