I love stories. Who doesn’t? Frodo Baggins, Prince Caspian, Katniss Everdeen. They all teach us something. That’s the point of a story – to teach. I truly believe that’s why the Bible is composed in a narrative format. It is God’s story to us. Jesus teaches in stories. People learn best from stories!
I am not a good storyteller, but I use them in my preaching anyway because I do understand that people learn better with stories and illustrations. Jesus taught in parables. He used common themes of the day coupled with the eternal truths of God to emphasize and maximize the impact so we can understand what God wants us to know.
However, I believe that a lot of us feel that our stories aren’t worth telling and re-telling. What I mean is this: “I grew up Christian. I’ve never gone through anything too hard. I’m nothing special.However, your personal story is God’s gift to you to help others understand and see the power of the Gospel; to see a life transformed; to feel the power of the living God working in a broken and dying world.
I think it is time we recapture that story – our God-given story. It’s time we embrace words like “testify” or “witness” not in an obnoxious turn-or-burn way; not by leaving tracts on a urinal, and not by leaving it up to preachers only to share their faith. It’s a church-wide responsibility.
There are two categories of conversion stories I see in the life of God’s people. The first is the Paul story. This is a story of radical, seemingly overnight, supernatural change. You hear the message; believe the message; you wrestle with it. It begins to consume you like a wild-fire consumes acres of forest. You are noticeably different; you have been transformed. These are the stories we most often hear. Radical transformation is God’s specialty. These are the ones we put up front to “tell their story of amazing grace.” Drug-addicts, sex addicts, evil people, greedy folks – all transformed by the power of God in the most miraculous fashion. We love these stories. We thrive on these stories…but by focusing only on these stories and labeling them “radical” or “incredible” we leave out another, possibly even more important second category.
The next category is called the Peter Story. These are the most common yet most neglected. You grew up in the faith. You know it front to back. You are your average “church goer.” However, you think that, “I don’t have a cool story. I’m not in a miraculous moment of change. I didn’t quit drugs or leave the mafia, or x, y, or z.” Most of the time, it may even be hard to see God working in your life. “It’s all I’ve ever known. I grew up in the church. I’m nothing special.” And that is dead wrong. You really should consider yourself blessed. I have a “Paul” story, but I wish I didn’t have to go through what I did to get where I am (however, I know that’s what makes me who I am today). Also, you have more impact to light a fire under the butts of people in the pew because you’ve been in the church just as long or longer as anyone else. What I want to focus on this is for you to understand something about “Peter Stories”: God gave you a story; it is unique to you; it will be used to glorify Him and change lives.
See, your story is incredible! It’s unique! It’s your symphony that God has gifted you with. People think that because they didn’t have this incredible experience…wait…having an experience is not a prerequisite for conversion. That’s the old 1600-1830’s mindset that to be genuinely saved one had to have a “religious experience.” Not true at all!
The point is this: if you are human being you are broken, sinful, and in trouble on judgment day. However, God, in His infinite mercy and love chose to step out of the glory of Heaven and come to earth and redeem us through Jesus Christ. See that’s your story! You were dead, but now you are alive. You were broken, now you’re fixed. You were blind but now you truly see. You have a story. You need to tell your story. God needs you to tell your story.
Over the next few posts I will share with you how to make the most out of your story and how to craft the symphony so that others can’t help but listen! God has given you this! Let’s make your Opus!