For 10 years, her ‘faith at school’ has been about the way she lives her faith at school. Now, her school is telling her about ‘her faith’ and she’s not so sure. She’s got questions. And I love it!
One morning last month, Rachael asked if I could take her out for a hot drink before school and we could talk. We joined the drive-thru at Macca’s and then, two hot drinks between us, headed to a quiet place near her school.
With 30 minutes to go, she asked, “Why is this school so focused on rules? It seems, every time they start talking about Jesus, or God, or faith it isn’t long, and they are talking about rules. Why do they think being a Christian is all about rules?”
I was so happy, I nearly dropped my coffee. I said, “Rachael, you have no idea how much it excites me to hear you ask that question!”
Her experience of faith at home didn’t gel with what she was hearing at school. The external Christian teaching of rules and regulations conflicted with the internal practice of confession and forgiveness she experiences at home.
I gave her a short answer and then went into my day thinking about her question. A couple of days later, after I picked her up from school, she asked to go to the lake for a chat. Having had time to think it through, I had a deeper answer for her.
It starts with a question: How big is your story?
Where you start and finish your telling of the Gospel controls the way you tell it and the way you live it.
Many Christians start in Sin and end in Heaven. Their story starts at Gen 3 and finishes at Revelation 20. But the Bible starts and finishes with a bigger story – a story that frames the sin/salvation story but isn’t controlled by it.
The Bible starts and finishes in a New Earth. One is created and a garden planted, the other is recreated and a city planted. Both are places of sinless beauty in which humanity is empowered to serve as stewards of all that is good.
If we start our story in Genesis 1 and finish in Revelation 22 as the Bible does, we will be living the whole story, now. The Great Creation story empowers humans, created bearing the image of God, with the purpose of nurturing relationships. Tell the whole story and you will live a story which builds God’s Kingdom rather than a story that teaches people how to live in this broken one.
By abbreviating the story, we sell God short by telling a story short of His glory.
The short-story Gospel tells people, “You are a wretched sinner! You are a sinful abomination abhorrent to a perfect God. Confess your sin or die in Hell!”
When approached with this story, most people say, “No, thank-you!” That is if they haven’t already run away in a cold sweat.
But, The long-story Gospel - the Great Creation Story - says, “I am so glad we found you! God is preparing a place in His Kingdom for you and has a purpose for you, right now. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is ready. You were created with a purpose in mind. God made you in His image and that image has been lost in the mess of this world. Come and let God bring His Image to the surface in your life. Come and discover your true purpose!”
I can’t imagine one person who would run away screaming from this invitation. “You belong. You are wanted. You have a purpose. You are beautiful in God’s eyes!”
Tell them who they really are. Recover the Image of God in His Creation.
Tell the whole story!