Tuesday, July 24, 2007

That’s My Story

I want to build on a post by Jason Clark: The Stories We Live By.

We instinctively live by stories. There are dominant narratives in our lives, in our imagination, beliefs, values, inner voices and dialogues, childhood experiences, that are the reality we live by.

He then lists three stories that he frequently hears (in the UK).

Here's my list of stories that I hear in our American culture:

1. I'm busy. (Related stories: I'm tired, I'm in a hurry, I don't have enough time.) In our culture, busyness is an indicator of significance. Anyone who is not busy must not be very important. The important people are always on call. They are constantly working extra hours because everything depends on them. Even our kids are busy.

Who has enough time to waste it on something as unimportant as sleep? So we are busy and tired. And we're always in a hurry. It's such a habit that we are in a hurry even when we are not in a hurry. And we complain that there are just not enough hours in the day. (Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein discovered some secret way to squeeze 30 hours out of every rotation of the earth.)

Busyness is an enemy of the kingdom. Can you picture Jesus in a hurry? "Let's go. We have to be in Nazareth by sunset or our whole itinerary will be off. Let's stay focused on our mission, guys."

2. I shouldn't have to put up with this. A slow line at the grocery store. Traffic backups for "no reason." Telemarketers calling during mealtime. These are just a few of the things that annoy us because they are "unnecessary." I find that most of the time that I get angry it is because I am telling myself this story. If anyone ever had a reason to say "I shouldn't have to put up with this," it was Jesus. Thank God, he never did.

3. I'm entitled to . . . This story adjusts to our stage in life. When we are young we tell ourselves, "I'm entitled to have a good time." When we get older and more responsible, we say, "I'm entitled to enjoy myself on the weekends." Then when we have kids in addition to our other responsibilities, we say, "I'm entitled to a little 'me' time." Or another variation is, "I'm entitled to at least one vice." Thankfully, Jesus never told himself these stories.

4. Someday things will settle down. This story has many variations:

Right now things are pretty rough, but in a few days life will get back to normal.

If I make a few sacrifices today, someday I'll be able to enjoy life.

When things get back to normal, I'll attend to all those things that are important.

I'll cut a few corners now, and then, when I get over the hump, I'll do what is right.

I really don't want to follow God's rules, but if do what he says now I'll get to go to heaven when I die.

Many Christians have confused Christianity with stoicism. But Jesus was no stoic, biting his lip and enduring whatever life happened to toss his way. Yet we have trouble seeing him as a man who enjoyed life. This is one reason that the miracle of turning the water into wine seems so out of place. Jesus had a very clear mission. But he knew how to live each day. I suspect that hanging out with Jesus was not all that different than hanging out with Robin Hood and his merry men (except the part about robbing the rich).

Life is what happens while we are waiting for things to get back to normal. Today is "the day God has made." The kingdom of God is not something that we join after we die. Eternal life is not something that is tacked on to our earthly life.

5. Everything would be fine if I could just . . .

be accepted to the right college.

get a good job.

get a better job.

find a good wife/husband.

buy my own house.

go on a nice vacation.

lose a little weight.

make more money.

buy a better house.

But, of course, these things don't fill up what's missing in our lives. Our lives need more than just a few tweaks here and there.

The only story that truly satisfies our souls is the story of the Gospel: The story God is telling. The story featuring Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah. The story staring Jesus the Messiah. And God invites us to participate in his story.

The story of the kingdom should be the substance of our self-talk.

We should be living that story. We should be aware of it developing all around us. We should make it the dominant narrative of our lives.

So what do you think? Are there any stories you are hearing that deny the reality of the kingdom?

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"

1 comment:

jeff franczak said...

A passage I read in Colossians this morning reminded me of Rod’s conclusion in this post.

Let the Word of Christ…[have] plenty of room in your lives… Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Col. 3:15-17, The Message)

It has been observed that we’ve become a culture that is addicted to busyness. Addiction is sin because it is an area of life that is not yielded to Christ’s rule and reign. I’m guilty of it too, but with God’s help and power I’ve been putting this tyrant to death in my life. You can too.

"Our darling sin must die. Spare it not for its much crying. Strike, though it be as dear as an Isaac. Strike, for God struck at sin when it was laid upon His own Son. With stern unflinching purpose must you condemn to death that sin which was once the idol of your heart."
C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening