Thursday, April 26, 2018

What's Your Story

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (I Peter 3:15-16 NIV)

Jesus was a storyteller—an amazing one, in fact. Even those who have little knowledge of Him know at least one of His stories. Think “The Good Samaritan,” “The Prodigal Son,” or “The Parable of the Sower.” He knew what we all know, that stories draw us in like no other form of communication. This is why people binge on Netflix, go to the movies, or curl up with a good book. A good story just naturally pulls us in and holds us there until it ends. And, normally, when we reach the end of a story, it does not really end; it continues to occupy space in our brains which we access frequently to re-tell it to friends or to contemplate its meaning.

In his letter to fellow believers suffering persecution because of their faith, Peter recognizes the value of storytelling and encourages his readers to tell theirs—to give the reasons for their steadfast faith when it would be much easier to forsake it given what they are enduring. The assumed question people are asking them is this: Why do you have such hope and joy when things are going so badly, when the world is such an unjust and unfair place? What’s your story?

To tell your story, you have to get a hearing. People have to be interested in it. For published authors, that comes when they have gained a reputation as a good writer, or when there is a “buzz” about their book that grabs people’s attention. For us as believers, this comes when our lives draw attention for being different than the norm. Why are you always so kind? Why do you care so much? You mean you’ve never had sex? Our behavior is the draw to hear our story.

The question for us is: Do we know how to tell it when there is interest in hearing it? From my experience with college students and adults, most do not. We know the parts, perhaps, but few of us have ever considered a way to form them into a compelling story that communicates the love of the Lord and the ways of His Kingdom. 

Today, think about your story of why you are a follower of Jesus and the reason you live this life differently than what is considered normal. If indeed you do live differently, know that people are taking notice and the time may come when they ask you why you do. What will you tell them?

© Jim Musser 2018

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