Does the world have a story? Christians say yes, the world has a story. The story tells of a Creator who loves the world and is leading the world to fulfillment. Christians understand themselves to be part of the story because they cooperate in the Creator’s actions. They believe, as well, that it is their responsibility to tell this story everywhere so that all can have hope in their destiny and join in the Creator’s work.
However true and wonderful we may think our story, there is a problem with it. Many fear stories that claim to give meaning to the entire human experience. They look at history and note how often people, even nations, identify themselves with their stories and attempt to force them on others even going to war when others reject their narrative. They observe how politics, business, social custom and ego all unite in such stories. Only in theory, not in actuality, can they separate the storyteller from the story. Seeing their power and knowing their history they fear their danger.
Jesus required that his followers make the story he told the center of their lives. Nothing else was to be more important because nothing else held the Creator’s promise and the future it revealed. We cherish a story that forms the center of our lives: one that, at the same time, others find at best suspicious and at worst life threatening.
When people look askance at our story and hesitate over the hope we offer, we do well to remember that they have good reason. They’ve been burned and they’ve seen others burned by stories that are too big and promise too much. They’ve suffered at the hands of true believers pushing themselves and their interests under the guise of universal truth. They have seen it and they still see it.
If, as Luke encourages, we’ve made Jesus’ promise the center of our lives and we’d like to see others have the same gift, it helps to remember that the heart of his story isn’t an idea, it’s love: the Creator’s love for us. Words can lie. Actions can lie. Love can’t lie. If we love, we give what we’ve been given. The explanation can come later.