I grew up in church all my life. I knew the rules about Christianity. I knew many of the right beliefs. I was baptized when I was 11 years old. I didn’t, however, understand the grace of Jesus. I thought God as an authoritarian rule-obsessed God more than I thought of him as a loving, forgiving Father. In my immaturity (in life and faith), I approached my faith as if walking a line. On one side was all the sinful things I could choose to do. On the other side of the line were all the right and good and Christian things I should be doing. As long as I stayed on the Christian side of the line, I was ok. I felt righteous. It left me with a very judgmental attitude toward anyone who seemed to me to fall on the other side of the line.
I was wrong. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college where I began to study the Bible and learn from others and my eyes were opened to the God of the Bible who pursues me with passion and mercy. That’s when I feel like I met Jesus for the first time. I began to grow in the knowledge of his love for me. I realized that I wanted to be directed by the Spirit (and not my flesh) because he loved me and died for me and desired a relationship with me. Faith wasn’t about walking a line but following a person. Jesus.
Since that time I have my ups and downs. I have struggled with sins that have creeped into my life. But I have also grown to learn of the grace of a really good Dad in Heaven. He loves me and calls me his son. I am his son no matter how far I fall or how good I am. Nothing can change the way he loves me or take away my identity as his son. This truth has completely rocked my world and changed my life. I find comfort, peace, conviction, and strength in that truth. I am growing each and every day to live as the son God has created me to be.
That’s my story. Or, it’s God’s story he’s telling in and through me.
We are in a sermon series each weekend at White Oak called Storyteller. We’re looking at a handful of stories told by Jesus. Jesus was a master storyteller. He took every day things which his audience could relate to and then flipped the commonly held religious or cultural narrative on its head. He juxtaposed how God’s Kingdom works in the opposite way our world wants to operate. God tells his story of redemptive work through each of Jesus’s stories. Everything we read in Scripture points toward the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Each of Jesus’s stories are also stories about how God wants to work in your life and mine.
At the end of Jesus’s story about the workers in the vineyard recorded in Matthew 20, he says this in v.16: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
What’s Jesus saying? In God’s story of his Kingdom advancement, those who humble themselves will be rewarded and those who cling to self-righteousness will be disappointed. So, how does that impact your story? You and I must ask where we tend to run to in order to feel self-important, secure, loved, and accepted. Is it through our own efforts or relationships or accomplishments? How do we trample on others in order to get what we want? Cling to Jesus. He is the only acceptance, joy, and peace we’ll ever need. His grace is enough. We don’t deserve a place in line (let alone first place). His blood has moved us to the front of the line!
Because we are Jesus people whose lives exist to bring glory to God and to love one another, we must be equipped to share the story God has been telling through our lives (just like I did in the first three paragraphs of this article). Answer these for yourself:
What was my life like before I met Jesus?
What did Jesus do in my life?
What has my life been like since I’ve been following Jesus?
Each of us should be equipped to tell our faith journey story so that others may come to know a Heavenly Father who is pursuing them! It’s His story told through you. Be ready to tell it! He’ll do the heavy lifting…we just need to be available.
You can find a story-telling resource on our website. Check it out!
Ready to share,
EASTER is coming on April 9! Don’t forget that inviting others to worship with you is the #1 way we want to celebrate God’s redemptive work this Easter season. Check out resources to help you do that by clicking here.
White Oak Christian Church