Saturday, August 12, 2017

Beware (and Embrace) the Power of Story

If we are going to respond well to the new cultural ethos, we need to know God’s Story—his plan for humanity, sexuality, and marriage. We need to be fully convinced about why it matters so much. We need to be willing to suffer loss to uphold it. Ultimately, we need to know that for stories to be good and true and beautiful, they must align with the Story that is ultimately good and true and beautiful. We need to know and tell the better Story.


There’s a new gospel in town, and it has recruited cadres of evangelists. This new gospel heralds peace with God and man, it proclaims enlightenment through acceptance. Yet it’s not acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but acceptance of a new morality, the embrace and endorsement of what Christians have long understood to be forbidden. It’s a popular and powerful gospel and someone is going to proclaim it to you very soon. They will proclaim it and call for a response.

Argue theology and Christians will dig in, tell Christians stories and they will cave in.

A recent article at the ultra-popular lifestyle site Lifehacker provides a guide for its proselytizers. The title aptly describes its goal: “How to Talk with Religious Conservatives about LGBT Rights.” Apologetic in nature, it is meant to train people to persuade others to embrace this new gospel. Speaking honestly and as one of those religious conservatives, I consider it an effective bit of writing. If I was going to try to persuade religious folk to put aside their existing convictions to embrace new ones, it is exactly the article I would write. At its essence, it discourages persuasion through arguments and encourages persuasion through narrative. Argue theology and Christians will dig in, tell Christians stories and they will cave in.

As Christians we love stories. In fact, at Grace Fellowship Church we just celebrated a number of baptisms and each person was asked to share the story of how they came to Christ. James and Moon told how they had been Jehovah’s Witnesses, but came to understand they were involved in a cult. Ryan and Maria told how they had been raised in Christian homes and eventually been faced with whether or not they themselves believed what their parents had taught them. Ragu, raised in a Hindu home, had been handed a Bible and alone, in its pages, had found Christ. Jola told of being raised in a religious home but one in which he never once heard the gospel. All six gave testimony to God’s work in their life. They encouraged us not merely with the fact that they are Christians but with the story of how they became Christians. It was powerful. It was beautiful.

We tell such stories to encourage believers and to persuade unbelievers. Our stories serve as ministry to the saved and evangelism to the lost. They add flesh and experience to what may otherwise be mere theology, mere ideas. Ultimately, we hope these stories will lead others to investigate and accept the great story God is telling in and through his world.

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