Why do people like movies, shows, and a good story? There is always some blockbuster to see in the theaters. We all binge-watch a whole season on Netflix or Amazon Prime—myself included! The desire for a story in which we can lose ourselves is insatiable. Besides losing a night’s sleep to a season of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Stranger Things, is this desire for stories such a bad thing? Well, yes and no.
The love of stories is merely human. We enjoy a good story because we inherently see meaning and value through the lens of stories. Yet, all stories are not created equal. Some stories empower the oppressors and continue the lies that harm others. Other stories are freeing and liberating, but untrue.
Very rarely do we find a story that is true and good. When we do stumble upon such a story in the news or on Netflix, we often find it unbelievable. Yet, it is such a story that we all long for. We long for justice and mercy. We long for the true fairy-tale ending of “happily ever after.”
Many people are beginning to recognize that programs and to-do lists are not enough in life. We all long for meaning and purpose to guide our callings and jobs. We want vocations that have meaning, that change lives, and that serve some higher purpose.
Waiting For A Different Story
People are often going through life just waiting to be told a different story. The question is: where do we go for such a story? If all stories are not equally good, true, or beautiful, what is our standard? Where do we look?
Thankfully, God has not left us alone but has given us his Word and Spirit to guide us into the truth. We exist in the place where God’s story enmeshes our own, bursts from the pages of Scripture, and enfolds us into it. It is when we hear God’s unfolding story of grace that we are actually renewed.
This true story is more dramatic than we could have imagined and yet more merciful and gracious than we could hope. This story of grace is not something that anyone could have made up, nor is it something that can be created on Wall Street or in the White House. It is truer than what we see on the news or read in our Buzzfeed.
We need a proclamation that comes from outside of us to make us wrestle with the gravity and severity of sin and the desperate wonder of God's grace. We need to see and hear and taste this story of God’s law we cannot keep and God’s gospel in Christ he freely offers to us. We need that absolution and pardon to tell us the hard truths about where injustice has occurred to us and by us, and to tell us that Christ has overcome it all.
God has graciously given us all the props we need. The script is ready for us to pick up. When we come to the Lord's Supper in the church service after we hear his story, Jesus meets us and changes us by the Spirit of God.
We can never outgrow the church. Sadly, there are many competing stories in this age that vie for our hearts and desires. This is why we need the church and the Sacraments to help us understand our place in God’s story. He constantly uses these simple things to change us from one degree of glory to the next.
The reason we can entrust ourselves to this God is because we see that he came in the fullness of time and offered up himself for us all. This is the story of happy endings—the fairy tale that is actually true. This is the story of God that we have been waiting for! This is the true fairy-tale ending we were made for.
It can sometimes be overwhelming when we think of how America's religious landscape has changed in a relatively short period of time.
Q1. What are the biggest challenges facing the church today? The greatest challenge always facing the church is whether it will preach the gospel. Not...