Hey everybody, Winn here with another episode of askdrwinn
In today’s show, we are presenting the second part of a beginning answer to the question that we began answering in Episode 3 that goes something like this:
Is there an antidote for fragmented living?
BTW: If you haven’t heard that presentation, you can key in askdrwinn.com/3 and hear the full presentation and visit the show notes.
In episode 3 we talked about some of the things that adds keeps living in a fragmented way, you can review that episode at askdrwinn.com/3.
We move forward now to the antidote to fragmentation: Story. Some believe that storytelling might be the most fundamental way that humans communicate. It just may well be that storytelling is the oldest human communication.
The following is the outline that I used in the original recording of the AskDrWinn Episode 4. There are more notes here that are covered in the episode. Hopefully these notes will help you review from time to time the content of this episode. We are working on the following question
Stories are powerful. Alister McGrath tells a story in his book Christian Spirituality.
Stories are about finding one’s identity, and learning the story of one’s own people. This point was brought home to me particularly clearly back in 1990, when I heard an American professor of literature describe how he discovered the importance of learning one’s story. This professor, who taught at a leading university in Southern California, was a Kiowa (KAI a wa) Indian, a Native American from the Oklahoma region. He told how he learned the story of his people when he was still a young boy. One day, just after dawn, his father woke him, and took him to the home of an elderly squaw. He left him there, promising to return to collect him that afternoon.
All that day, the squaw told this young boy the story of the Kiowa people. She told him of their origins by the Yellowstone River, and how they then migrated southward. She told him of the many hardships they faced—the wars with other Indian nations and the great blizzards of the winter plains. She told him of the glories of the life of the Kiowa nation—of the great buffalo hunts, the taming of wild horses, and the great skill of the braves as riders. Finally, she told him of the coming of the white man. She told him about the humiliation of their once-proud nation at the hands of the white soldiers, who forced them to move south to Kansas, where they faced starvation and poverty. Her story ended as she told him of their final humiliating confinement within a reservation in Oklahoma.
Shortly before dark his father returned to collect him. His words on leaving the home of the squaw remains firmly planted in my mind. “When I left that house, I was Kiowa.” He had learned the story of his people, to which he was heir. He knew what his people had been through. Before he had learned that story, he had been a Kiowa in name only: now he was a Kiowa in reality.
Could it be that when a follower of Jesus hears and understands God’s Story, he or she will no longer be a Christian in name only, but will be a Christian in reality, one who lives his or her life in community for the sake of the world? God’s Story is a captivating Story, one that is bigger than our small “soap operas” that we so often live in day to day.
What Are Stories?
Stories are not just a bunch of fragmented stuff that just happens. Stories are moving accounts that are headed for a destination. So when we hear or tell a story, it is a whole entity. We need to guard against putting fragments together that produce the creation of a different story and then pass it off as if it were God’s story.
The Story of God that Scripture presents is to be told as a challenge to the story of the present world. God’s Story is subversive and will subvert the dominant paradigm when told and enacted. The telling and living of this Story challenges the authority of this present evil age. In telling and living God’s Story, we are undermining the current worldview of what the world is and offering the world a new worldview. The Story we tell and live is that there is only one God. He is the creator of all that there is. He not only created the world, but he lives within his creation.
Here are four stories that Christians often live in without knowing or understanding it.
- He is not up there and we are down here (dualism).
- He is not a landlord who made the world and left it to run on its own (deism).
- He is not an absentee landlord (agnosticism).
- He is not absent (atheism).
This Creator God is supreme over his creation and is deeply wounded by its fall away from goodness to sinfulness. He was loving enough that he was willing to get his hands dirty, as it were, to bring about its recreation.
The Story of God is about the world that was created by God and functions as an open invitation for all who choose to participate. The hearer can make the Story his or her own by turning away from idols that hinder one from making the Story one’s own and worshiping the God who is revealed in this Story.
Knowing the Story is not an end in itself. The Story is there so that the Creator God may be glorified and that his creation may be redeemed. It is our task to be the vehicles through whom this magnificent Story is told and retold, not just in words but also with drama, art, or any form of creative expression. We have been entrusted with a great and wonderful privilege.
- What if story, not propositional fragments, is the cause of our actions?
- What if story, not propositions, gives us our worldview?
- What if story, not propositions, is at the root of the way we function as human beings?
- What if we changed our story from one of cultural consumerism, as an example, to God’s Story, which provides another view of the world? Wouldn’t it follow that we would change how we would relate to the world around us?
- What if story is the medium through which we develop our hopes and dreams, our joy and anger, our self-expression and fears?
What Stories Do
- Stories cause us to have emotions (joy, peace, love, fear, etc.).
- Stories bring ideas to us. We see ourselves in the characters presented in stories.
- Stories explode our curiosity.
- Stories are about sending and receiving.
- Stories include conversation that goes both ways, providing interaction. It appears that we could all benefit from the effect of story.
As long as story captures our interest, we have an almost infinite capacity to hear and repeat it. In today’s economy, those who market and advertise know the power of story. It seems that story is one of the most powerful and effective tools that we have at our disposal to convey information with which we may engage people. An audience may be immersed in the story that provides them with the information that they need to take an action. Watch for Super Bowl story commercials.
ILLUSTRATION: Once while teaching an Old Testament Survey class at the church level, I told the story of Genesis 1.1-2.4a. I provided the background for the writing and then placed the story of Genesis 1 into that background. The background of the story is in the life of Israel, living at the foot of Sinai, being prepared to go to the land promised to their forefathers. They had made covenant with God in which the first stipulation was that Yahweh was the only God they could worship. The story of Genesis 1 is about God as creator set against all the other formidable gods of the ancient world. In each successive period of creation, two gods were dethroned and Yahweh replaced them. This would have been clear to the Hebrews who were hearing the story. God was serious about being their only God. I ended with a question: “How many gods do we worship today?”
The next time I gathered with those people, one lady brought me a paper that she had handwritten, answering the question. To her surprise, there were other gods being worshiped in her life with which she had to deal. God’s story and the interaction with the Spirit brought a new freedom to this person’s life. She had improvised within the framework of the story and gained new light on the gods that were controlling her life.
All Scripture… (2 Timothy 3.10-17)
Let’s put into the story context.
- Which book written in the New Testament, gives you a sense of what has gone before in the story. It is the 15th book written in the New Testament canon.
- Which book written by Paul, gives you a sense of Paul’s ongoing contribution. Second Timothy was the 13th book written by Paul and possibly his last. And the text to which we are drawn were some of the last words he wrote before his pen fell silent for all ages.
- Where and Who Was it Written to?
- Where: Ephesus (Acts 19)
- Who: Timothy, Paul’s personal representative to the church at Ephesus
Second Timothy Overview
The contents of 2 Timothy suggest that Paul was facing death, but even with that hanging over his head, he had time to encourage Timothy. This letter is a moving goodbye from Paul. Paul reviewed his history from Damascus to the present time of this writing. While struggles and victories had been in his path, he had fought the battles and run the course set before him well. Just ahead, after his death, was his reward. With the final goodbye to Timothy, his pen fell silent for eternity.
Paul’s Charge to Timothy: 2 Timothy 3.10-17
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The purpose of the Old Testament and the New Testament by extension is simply stated in Paul’s letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3.16-17).
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for
- teaching: instruction
- reproof: Convict and to show us our sin. How we are living in the wrong story! This word appears two times in Scripture here and at Hebrews 11.1.
correction: To provide instruction, i.e., to give us the correct story to live in. To restore us to an upright position, or put us back in the right story. It appears one time in Scripture.
- training in righteousness: It means to direct us to walk in the right paths (Ps. 23).
that the man (people) of God may be thoroughly equipped: Man is anthropos, the Greek word for human being, male and female.
- for every good work: Good works not grounds for salvation but the fruit of salvation. Paul expresses it in Ephesians 2.8-10. We are his workmanship: work of art, an artistic conception, a masterpiece. We show that we are his masterpiece by living in his Story. Story is about working with God to put his world to rights, redemption, restoration, salvation, healing, etc. We do not become his masterpiece because of the works we perform.
Practice: Take Some Baby Steps
Read the following story: The Story of Samuel: 1 Samuel 5.1-8.22
Ask the following questions:
- How did God act?
- How did the characters act?
Faced with a similar story or set of circumstances:
- How will God Act?
- How should you or your community of faith act?
Knowing and living in the Story of God is the bedrock essential. Within that Story we are to live as:
- A Spirit Led Community
- A Community of Praise
- A Community that Lives for Others
- A Community of Kingdom Relationships
In the Ten Commandments the Pharaoh says: So it is written, So let it be done.
In an echo of that: So the Story is written, So let’s learn to live in it!
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Signing off until next time.