Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Would an Archaeologist Find in the Ruins of My Church?

A recent MSNBC article about new archaeological evidence for the biblical David and Goliath makes the claim that David was a real man, in a real place. Of course, there is much skepticism in the article as well. What I found most interesting about the skepticism was its focus on the mixed religious practices of the people of Israel and the Philistines. Clearly, the Israelites were not as faithful as they should have been, nor were the Philistines unwilling to borrow from Israelite practices. This makes it harder to authenticate if David was truly there, or if it was simply an errant Israelite village. This quote sums it up rather well:
Maeir said the distinctions between the various peoples mentioned in the Bible — including David's Israelites and Goliath's Philistines — were "fuzzier than the way they are often described."
It got me thinking. If 3,000 years from now a group of archaeologists came to my church and did an excavation, what would they find? Would they be able to distinguish the Lutheran Church - even a Christian Church - from the pseudo worldly religions around me?

Consider all the things we do that might have the appearance of the world. Would we be able to distinguish the things of David from the things of Goliath? Is our life reflective of the fact that we are "in the world" but not "of the world"? I think, probably not. This is to our detriment and to our shame.

What it shows us is our great sin. Our Christian lives are "fuzzier than the way they are often described" in the Scriptures. We are full of sin, always coveting the things of this life, always seeking after false gods in ways that we don't always rightly see. Yet, future historians will make an account. They will see what we've done, and say that David's Israelites have mingled with Goliath's Philistines.

They will see the sins we've committed, and the hypocrisy of all Christian congregations when it comes to worship and practice, and the everyday lives of its parishioners. For this we should repent. Yet, let the Scriptures proclaim what the archaeology cannot see. We have a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Through Jesus Christ we saintly sinners are forgiven.

Though we've mingled the David and the Goliath, God has saved us from Goliath.

+Kyrie Eleison+

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