How to Frame the Story of God for People still “Kicking Tires”, Spiritually
Have you ever noticed that almost all the great stories follow the same story line?
Once upon a time, things were good and then something awful happens when someone, or something evil, destroys the good life people once had. A hero then rises up, risks or sacrifices his or her own life, destroys the villain, rescues the situation, sets things right again, good triumphing over evil and they all live happily ever after. Think about it! From childhood fairy tales, like The Big, Bad Wolf, to The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, LeMiserables, Titanic, Star Wars, Gladiator and Lord of the Rings, this story line holds. Why do you think this is?
It’s because all these stories borrow their power from the Grand Story woven into the fabric of our being. It’s part of our spiritual DNA! We were created in the image of God and every person no matter how far they’ve wandered from God knows that something is terribly wrong with this world. We’re frightened and we long for someone or something to rescue us and make things right again. We even dream of being heroes ourselves, rescuing others from injustice and evil.
This is the story line which runs through the Bible from beginning to end and it’s the story line of a biblical worldview. I’m thankful to John Eldridge in his wonderful book, The Epic, for introducing me to these illustrations of how to think of, the story of God in scripture. It’s a great way to introduce those you’re mentoring or your own children or grandchildren to the story of God.
In, The Call of the Wild, Jack London’s wonderful novel about a domesticated sled dog named Buck; London uses an interesting literary device. We read what Buck is thinking. At one point, late one night, warming himself around the campfire, Buck hears the howl of wolves in the distant mountains and knows instinctively that somehow, whatever is making that sound, it and he, are connected in some way. He doesn’t know how or why, he has no memory to draw on – “he just knows”.
Even those far from God, just know they’re connected to “something out there”.
An Evangelism Failure?
Many years ago, I began a Bible discussion at a large firm, full of young professionals – smart, aggressive and skeptical – some were believers – some not. After a year or two, my wife and I invited them and their wives, to an evangelistic Christmas program at our church. I got the best seats in the house – two full rows right behind the pastor.
One young couple, Mark and Lynn, who I’d never met, had a last minute problem with a babysitter, so they ended up taking their small children.
As the program progressed, the children became restless, the parents were doing their best, but I was doing a slow burn. I had invited them to hear the gospel, now they’re being distracted by their children. I was frustrated. The program ended and all the couples came to our home afterwards to discuss what they’d heard, but of course this young couple had to get their kids to bed, so they were out. Too bad. Maybe next year.
The very next week, I received a call from one of the believers in the study. Mark had just left his office. Mark and his wife had been talking about the gospel presentation all weekend and had all kinds of thoughtful questions about Jesus and faith that indicated that they clearly understood the message, which I would have thought impossible considering the distraction. That’s the power of God to cause men and women to begin this amazing faith journey and draw them into His story!
The Hound of Heaven
Something strange happens when people are drawn to Jesus. They often feel themselves being drawn to something, or to someone they don’t fully understand, but they feel is true. They just know. Like a visitor to an auction, who finds themselves bidding on something they had no interest in before they entered the room, they are drawn by the Spirit of God, into the Jesus story. To this day, Mark can’t remember a single sentence of that talk, but the Hound of Heaven had run him down – oddly, he didn’t feel trapped – he felt found.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44
If you’ve not grown up a Christian, the Bible can be as complex as a jigsaw puzzle. With each sermon or Bible study you get a piece, but how does one piece fit with the next? How much easier would it be if you had the cover of the jigsaw puzzle right in front of you? That’s exactly why I wrote God’s Story. It’s a 2,500 word summary of the Bible. It will help those less familiar with the major characters and themes of the Bible. I’ll post it as a blog this Thursday. (If you just can’t wait, you can go to the RESOURCES page of this website and click on God’s Story.
So, if you know a new Christian, or one still kicking tires spiritually, why not send them God’s Story? Then discuss with them the storyline ideas at the start of this blog. They’ll be grateful you did!
Following Jesus in Real Life