What is your story? What does it mean for you to follow Jesus?
The big gospel stories have always impressed me. Mother Teresa. Brother Yun. Billy Graham. Elisabeth Eliot. I’ve heard many other powerful stories, although I can’t remember the details. A mob figure who is now a Christian. A man who left a meaningful career to care for his wife who had Alzheimer’s. Average, every day, people who God enabled to do sacrificial things.
Many of our stories are private, and only God knows what he has done in our lives, but there is evidence. The woman who cares for her chronically sick child. The teenager who isn’t terribly concerned with what his peers think and invests in relationships with those who are teased, bullied and overlooked at school. The talented men and women who invest their skills in ministry and volunteer work instead of a banking a big paycheck.
What is the gospel story according to you?
I was a young adult who didn’t know who I was. I remember taking handwriting tests, personality tests, and other silly methods of figuring myself out. I wouldn’t have put it in these terms, but identity was a major issue for me.
When I began to take God seriously, to commit my life to him, I was suddenly enthralled with his Word. I couldn’t get enough of it, which surprised me. That was a gift that I believe God gave me, and he also gave me the opportunity to develop that gift in Community Bible Study.
When I began to study God’s Word, it dawned on me that I will be known first and foremost as God’s child, and only when I know him will I know myself. I had been looking at the world around me to define who I was, and that never worked.
God is showing me who I am. I’ve learned to trust God, to turn all of my concerns over to him, and am finally realizing that he is, in fact, in control. There is quite a lot more transformative work to be done in my life. I’m no where near done. But, I know who I am, and that is a major part of the gospel according to me.
I’ve been reading Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans, and just finished a chapter called Gospel Stories. She writes,
Liberation from sin looks different for the rich young ruler than it does for the woman caught in adultery. The good news that Jesus is the Messiah has a different impact on John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, than it does the Ethiopian eunuch, a Gentile and an outsider. Salvation means one thing for Mary Magdalene, first to witness the resurrection, and another to the thief who died next to Jesus on a cross. The gospel is like a mosaic of stories, each one part of a larger story, yet beautiful and truthful on its own. There’s no formula, no blueprint.
No formulas. No blueprints. Each story is unique. I believe Jesus takes delight in the different ways in which we show his love, experience his power, and display his grace. How does a Christian in China demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in his life? What does the gospel look like for a believer in Brazil or Hungary or North Korea?
The only thing I can say for sure, is that those stories look very different from mine. And yours. Jesus loves all of them. And mine. And yours.
What is the gospel story according to you?
Judy, Anders and I both read this book this summer and were struck by the fact that each persons story is unique. And that’s how it should be. There is no set formula for how you come to Christ or how you live with Jesus in your heart- this was freeing to me. Perhaps I’ve always felt this, but seeing it written by someone helped validate my thoughts. Maybe it’s because I love a good story, but a lot of this book resonated with me. Somewhere towards the end the author says that “one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the ability to tell stories. Helping them apply narrative to their everyday experiences and to see purpose and direction in the forces that shape their lives”. I love that each of our lives is a story that entertwines with the stories of those around us. And they all matter!
Andrea, I was struck by the same passage about helping our children learn to “apply narrative to their everyday experiences.” I didn’t think of it in those terms when my children were young, and the love of stories that I taught them was probably through all the books that I read to them and the encouragement to read themselves. Mission accomplished, but I wish I had done more to translate that into their own experiences. I can apply this more directly to my grandchildren, however, and I’ll give it a try! Thanks for your comment, Andrea!