In my previous post I mentioned an acrostic that the folks at Community Christian (Chicago area) originated: B.L.E.S.S. — a simple yet powerful process for sharing your faith with others which has “Story” as it’s final “S.” We suggest that it’s really two stories that must be told — God’s and yours.
N.T. Wright simplifies God’s story by capturing the broad sweep of God’s mission in the Bible with six words; our friend Pavi Thomas (Heritage Christian Church) suggests that the key to personally engaging God through his story and in life are the threads of mercy and trust throughout it.
Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Numbers 20:12: “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’”
Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
God’s story is, not surprisingly, profoundly compelling yet simple to unfold. It can be adequately captured in six words that span from the first book of the Bible, Genesis, through its last, Revelation…from the perfect creation to the perfect restoration of all things.
Between the two perfect bookends we not only read but actually find ourselves within the real life struggle to find and know God…we (along with all of humanity that precedes and that will follow us) live in the tension of pride and faith, trust in self verses trust in God our Creator.
And finally, as Isaiah humbly admits (ch. 6) when God graciously reveals himself to us, we are faced with the gut-wrenching and humbling realization that we are irreparably separated from God apart from his mercy.
Equipped with this simple six-word overview, Christians could draw many into a freeing and inquisitive space with God, but the most responsive listeners will be the humble and broken souls whose heart genuinely seeks God.
Find your own words within the following framework to authentically and passionately tell God’s story. It’s not about having a perfect presentation – God put YOU in their path for a reason, and his Spirit will use whatever words and actions you offer for their good and His glory!
- Creation: God, who is without beginning or end, through the awe-inspiring power of his eternal nature and words, created all of the cosmos and all of life within it by merely speaking. Regardless of the creation explanation you are compelled to believe it requires your trust. Will you by faith, offer your trust to God, to chance, or to man? The thread of trust begins or ends here for us.
- Fall: Enjoying the fullness of God and everything they needed along with a simple instruction from God to trust Him (don’t eat from that tree), they failed to trust Him (fell into sin) and the eternal relationship was severed as a result. Do you recognize the sinful and unavoidable tendencies in your life? Do you recognize them for what they are–a distrust of God?
- Israel: The people of God, chosen to be the recipients of God’s mercy and forgiveness, we’re again given every means (law) and every reason (power and protection) to put their trust in God, yet they waffled and disobeyed like you and I, ultimately left still separated from God. Do you realize that none of your good stuff can fully repair the damage done, nor fix the depth of rebellion in your heart?
- Jesus: Having been rejected by people since the beginning God’s mercy endures and he sent his son, Jesus, to accomplish what no one including you and I could do for themselves – trust God completely, even to his death. It is Jesus’ perfect trust of the Father that repairs the broken our trust with God, forgiving the eternal consequences and separation that came by our distrust. Do you see how God would have been justified to simply wipe us from the earth and let us deteriorate into hell, but instead suffers our consequences, forgives us and loves us even though we’re still a mess?
- Church: Jesus ascended to God but sent His Spirit to continue the mission of reconciliation through the Church, (Christians) His forgiven, authentic, sacrificial, ambassadors of reconciliation. The Church will continue to waffle from trust to distrust, but rest securely in God’s merciful solution: Jesus.
- Restoration: God will one day mercifully restore His creation to the way it was in the Garden and should always have been – perfect peace…shalom…heaven – where there will be perfect relationship with God completely devoid of mistrust/sin.
God longs to be merciful to those who put their trust in His Son, and then He offers them the mind-boggling and ongoing purpose of re-telling His story to others and inviting them into the deeply satisfying space of a mercy-rich and trusting relationship with God.
That’s the Church! Trusting recipients and presenters of God’s mercy.