“We do not enjoy a story fully at the first reading.” – C.S. Lewis
We all like stories. Whether they’re movies, books, social media timelines, or told by our friends, good stories captivate us. We all want to be part of a story, something bigger than ourselves, something that gives us purpose. If you look around, there are millions of different stories that people are telling in order to make sense of this world. The stories we believe shape our “worldviews.” A worldview is what we believe to be true about the world and it shapes our values and gives us our goals in life. How you see yourself and the world affects what you do. If life is all about relationships, then you will do everything possible to have friends and a girlfriend. If having high grades, getting into the top college, and obtaining great job is your source of identity, then you may not mind cheating the system if it gets you ahead. If we’re just animals that have evolved over millions of years, then you will think sex is no big deal. If there is nothing after death or higher authority, then you will live however you want now because you believe you are the master of your life.
Whether we realize it or not, we all have a worldview. We may not think about it, but it influences every decision you make because through your worldview, you explain why things are the way they are and where they are going. It tells you about the past, the present, and the future. We all believe something about those three – if you say you don’t, I bet I can tell you what you believe if I watched you for an extended period of time.
The Bible is not an encyclopedia that explains EVERY single event that ever occurred in world history. Rather, it tells a specific Story. Yet this Story affects how we see the entire world and all of its other stories. It is a story about God, not us. We are in it and, praise God, it is good news for us, but it’s His story.
It is a story about God, not us.
“In the beginning, God made the Heavens and the Earth.” The story starts by telling us that everything had a point of beginning and before that, God was. God is eternal, no beginning and no end. We are left by the Bible to have our minds blown by God’s eternality. He exists as 1 God, yet in 3 Persons – Father, Son, and Spirit. We are left by the Bible to have our minds blown by the Trinity. God, not needing anything to feel happier, creates the universe out of nothing – like there wasn’t even “emptiness” but then there was “something.” Everything God created was perfect and was exactly how He wanted it. God’s wisdom, creativity, and power are unlimited, therefore, what He created has to be the best possible choice. Because God is the Creator, He is the one who has the right to determine the meaning and purpose of everything, including us. God is the only one who can tell us His design for creation – this is why the Bible is so important. In the Bible, God comes to us, speaks to us, and reveals how things truly should be, rather than how we think they should be.
At the start, everything lived in harmony with everything else. No cancer, no hatred, no loneliness, no death, no mental illness, no divorce, no addictions, no brokenness. God formed a Garden and placed the first people, Adam and Eve, there. God made them in His “image,” meaning they were His representatives on Earth, to spread out and to rule in such a way as to bring out the potential of the whole universe.
They experienced perfect peace and friendship with God, each other and creation because they lived humbly underneath His rule.
But this did not last. At some point in history, Adam and Eve were lured away by an idea that they could be EQUAL with God and that God was restricting them by withholding something good from them. If they would just break His rule and choose for themselves what they thought was best, they would be like Him, GODS THEMSELVES.
Adam and Eve’s rebellion caused all of creation to fall away from its original unity. Creation was broken. Adam and Eve now hid from God, blamed each other, and the first death was by God’s hand when he killed a lamb to cover their nakedness with its skin. God was not surprised by Adam and Eve’s treason. The writer Paul tells the Ephesians that God had the plan of salvation for His People laid out from before the creation of the world! Before He drives them out of the Garden, God tells Adam and Eve that, because of their actions, they and creation will experience pain and death from then on. Yet in the midst of the chastisement, God promises a hope. He tells Eve that from her will come one who will crush Satan and end his power over death.
With the promise still in their minds, Adam and Eve have children, two boys named Cain and Abel. Maybe one of them is the promised one? Alas, no. The rebellion has spread to their children, with the murder of Abel by his brother, a horrible trend is history begins. Generation after generation will be born who hate God and each other. Humanity wants its independence from God. The idea of a higher authority became offensive to us and we sought our own paths, the Bible calls this “sin.” Some, out of their desire for independence, invented religions where we believed we could do enough good to earn our own salvation back, rather than relying on God. We now try to find who we are in everything but God and we are never fully satisfied. Because of God’s love for His creation and His plan for it, there are times of great happiness, but we cannot shake the reality of this brokenness when we see the sadness, confusion, and hatred in the world today.
History marched on. Figures many of you know – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses – all prove to be broken just like creation and all of them are held under the power of death because of their sin. God gives His People the Ten Commandments and they continually break them. Over the centuries, the Jews killed millions of animals as sacrifices for their sins. Every year they had to offer new sacrifices because they were constantly guilty of more sin. God then gave kings like David to His People, yet none of them were the promised one, because they were conquered by death. God told David that the promised one would come from his family and would rule forever. After many prophets proclaimed the coming of the promised one, God falls silent for 400 years. The Jewish people are left wondering if God had forgotten His promise and had abandoned them.
Then something happened.
Mary, a young Jewish girl, engaged to be married, is visited by an angel. The angel tells her that she is going to have a baby. She is confused because she was a virgin. The angel tells her that the child will be from God and she will name him “Jesus” (“Joshua” in her language). The funny thing about that name is it means “God saves,” and yet, the angel tells Mary that she will name her baby this because, “HE will save His people.” God had promised through prophets that He, himself, would come to save His people, and now he had.
Jesus announces that the Kingdom of God has come, that the people need to ask forgiveness and come back under the rule of God. He shows that the He is here to bring creation back to God by performing acts to counter the effects of sin like sickness, demon possession, and death. He claims to teach the very words of God, even that He is one with God. Jesus lives the perfect life that was required by each and every person before God.
Then Jesus does what He came to do – He lays down His life. He does this freely, no one takes it from him. He is beaten, mocked, and hung on a Roman cross, the most brutal execution method ever devised by man. As awful as the physical pain was, we cannot fully know the true pain of the cross – the wrath of God that was put on Jesus for His People. He is the only one qualified to be the True Sacrifice because He himself is not guilty of sin – a once and for all sacrifice that all the dead animals were pointing to. You see, our rebellion must be dealt with. If a person will trust in Jesus’ work then his sin was paid for by Christ on the cross, if a person will not, he will have to pay for it at the last judgment.
The angel tells Mary that she will name her baby Jesus because, “He will save His people.”
Jesus dying was important, but only because He rose three days later. Jesus overcoming death proved he was the promised one, that He was the King who would rule eternally. Paul even wrote that if Jesus had stayed dead that our faith is worthless and we are still guilty of our sins. If Jesus had simply died and was never resurrected, His sacrifice would have been like all those animals before him because we continue to sin. But Jesus did not stay dead, He rose from the dead and went back to the Father. He is there now, speaking for His People – His perfect life is given to us. God sees and rewards those who trust in Jesus like they themselves lived perfect lives!
This changes everything. Once Jesus returned to the Father, the Spirit came to live in and transform anyone who would humble themselves back under God and trust in the work of Jesus as payment for them loving anything more than God. The Spirit causes God’s People to love Him and want to do good deeds that spread the fame of is worth. The Spirit job is to make people see Jesus and extend the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is where God is held in honor and His authority is over all of someone’s life – their friendships, their sports, their eating, their relationships, their life goals, EVERYTHING. It is spread, one person at a time. While God has been master over all of creation since the beginning, sin and brokenness are still present, but not for long.
We are near the final stage of God’s Story. Jesus’ work has started the renewal of creation and is forming a group who is spreading God’s glory. God promised that one day His glory would cover the whole earth like an ocean. Jesus told His friends that He would leave them for a time and then come back. The Bible tells us that we now live in that middle time where the Gospel, the good news of what Jesus did, is spreading. At a certain point in the future, this will stop, and Jesus will come back, but this time, not as a meek baby. The second time will be in full glory and power to judge sin and restore the Earth back fully under God’s design. A distant Heaven is not the ultimate end for God’s People, rather it is God living with His sinless People on a perfected Earth.
I challenge you to look at this world in a new way. Christians should strive daily, in every area of their lives, to expand God’s Kingdom. Our relationships, our work, our recreation – all of these are to be lived under the guidance and for the glory of God. Live in such a way as to demand an explanation from those who see you. If we really do believe what the Bible says then our values, goals, and actions should be radically different than those who believe a different story.
All authority has been given to Jesus and He is always with His People. This should be reason for great hope and a humble boldness inside us. Do not fight like you are the one who must win the world over. God is the one who saves and changes lives. And the best news is that He promised to do it and He is more faithful than we can ever imagine.
Tell me the old, old story,
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love;
Tell me the story simply,
As to a little child,
For I am weak and weary,
And helpless and defiled.
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story,
Of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story slowly,
That I may take it in—
That wonderful redemption,
God’s remedy for sin;
Tell me the story often,
For I forget so soon,
The “early dew” of morning
Has passed away at noon.
Tell me the story softly,
With earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner
Whom Jesus came to save;
Tell me the story always,
If you would really be,
In any time of trouble,
A comforter to me.
Tell me the same old story,
When you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory
Is costing me too dear;
And when the Lord’s bright glory
Is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story:
“Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”