Storyline hosted its DNA event this weekend. Friday night is a ‘Storyline 101’ session – where we talk through the values and practices of our community with people who are new to Storyline. Saturday is called ‘Leader DNA’ – where we provide training to developing leaders in house church ministry.
At the beginning of the first session on Friday night, Ryan read the “God’s Story” article from our website, like he always does. And, like always, it charged me up and reminded me who I am and why I do what I do.
I’ll share it with you here in hopes that it will provide similar encouragement.
We believe the story of God in Jesus is the true story of the whole world.
It is the grand storyline of which all of our lives are a part in one way or another. We want to discover our place in this story. We believe the Christian Scriptures are the definitive source of this storyline.
The world in which we live came into existence by the work of a creator God. This God is a personal God that exists not as an isolated individual but as a loving community of persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This God is good in every way—characterized by love, holiness, faithfulness, compassion, and justice.
Out of loving community, God created the world for the sake of sharing his love with it.
Humanity was the height of God’s creative work. Humans were created in the image of God, to reflect God’s nature as relational, loving and just people. They were to care for the world in a way that reflected the good nature of God. Click here to read an excerpt from the Scriptures about God’s creation of the world and humanity.
God designed humanity to experience a relationship of trust with God. For the sake of genuine relationship, God gave humanity freedom to choose whether or not to remain in a trusting relationship with God.
But something went terribly wrong.
The first humans were enticed by the powers of evil at work in the world and used their freedom to choose their own path—to be their own gods. As a result of their decision, their relationship with the creator God was broken and so were they.
Terrible evil resulted. The world was cursed. Humans murdered other humans. Evil is a part of the story to this day. Click here to read an excerpt from the Scriptures on the entrance of brokenness into the world.
But this God did not give up. He did not destroy the world and count it a failed project.
God raised up the family of a man named Abram and made a pact with them: God would bless the whole world through them and use them to restore his broken relationship with humanity. To read more about Abram, click here.
This family grows and becomes the people of Israel. God gave them a law to live by that would embody what right relationship with God looked like. Israel lived as an example for the rest of the world to see. To read more about Israel’s law, click here.
Yet Israel fell into the same traps the first humans did: over and over again Israel tried to go its own way and be its own god. The problem of brokenness was too deep for humanity to fix. God would have to do something drastic.
Jesus the Messiah
And so this creator God did the unthinkable: he took on human form in Jesus, a Jewish man from Nazareth. Jesus embodied the fullness of God and modeled for Israel and the rest of the world what it looked like to be in right relationship with God. Click here to read about Jesus’ entry into the world.
Jesus called people away from being their own gods and urged them to turn toward the one true God. He taught about living in love, service and humility rather than with dominating power and selfishness. He declared that another world was possible and was indeed making its way into the present world. It would replace the world humanity had made for itself. Some of Jesus’ most famous teachings can be found here.
Jesus’ message was so radical that it upset the powers that be—both the Jewish leaders of Israel and the Roman Empire. As a result, he was executed as a criminal for insurrection by way of crucifixion—suffocating to death while hanging from a wooden cross. Click here to read an account of Jesus’ death.
What seemed like a failed cause became the greatest victory in the story when, three days later, God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was the real deal. The world he spoke of was the real deal. Not even death could stop it. For an an account of Jesus’ resurrection, click here.
Followers of Jesus came to believe that in the death of Jesus, God provided a way for the world to be healed. God took all of humanity’s brokenness upon himself, through Jesus, on the cross. At the cross, God defeated the powers of evil that enticed humanity. Those who trusted Jesus’ work on their behalf could experience a right relationship with God as a gift from God to undeserving people. For early Christian commentary on the death of Jesus, click here.
After Jesus rose from the dead he returned to the loving community of God, promising to come back and make the world right for good. In the meantime, his followers were commissioned to share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection with the rest of the world.
Anyone who believed the story could be a part of the new community of faith—called the church—that was experiencing right relationship with God and each other. The church’s task was to live into the new world that had opened up through Jesus and to invite others into that world. To read a text about the church, click here.
God even gave himself, the Holy Spirit, to live in those who followed Jesus and empower them to live in relationship with God and fulfill their task. Click here for a text about the role of the Holy Spirit.
This is the part of the story we find ourselves in.
The Restoration of the World
One day, Jesus will return and restore the world to rights, just as he promised. Brokenness will be eradicated. The powers of evil will be stamped out for good. Pain and suffering will end. This world will be transformed into a new world where we’ll enjoy the loving relationship with God and each other that was always intended for us. To read more about the restoration of the world, click here.
How do we know this story is true? While it’s not possible to make an airtight case (about anything), we do have good reasons. Dozens of authors in different contexts have recorded this story in the scriptures over the course of many centuries with remarkable coherence—so much so that we believe God was behind it. People have been living by this storyline for thousands of years. And this story makes sense to us—it answers our questions about nature of reality in a way no other story does.
Perhaps the greatest reason this story is true to us is because we believe Jesus really was raised from the dead. That changes everything.
We’re discovering our place in this story. And we invite you to discover yours, too.