October 23, 2016
Gospel Identity – Week 9 – His Story Our Story (Part 2)
Gospel Identity – Week 9 – His Story Our Story (Part 2)
I asked you to do a couple of things this last week.
- Listen to someones story and see if you could here the 4 part of the Gospel story in their story
- Write out your story in light of the Gospel story.
How many of you did that?
I am going to go back a little bit and review a few things we talk about last week to get us back in the track of this idea.
We must continue to grow in our knowledge and understanding of THE STORY and grow in “Gospel Listening:” listening closely to the stories of others in light of THE STORY—The Gospel. Every person and culture has these four parts in their Story:
Everyone has a fundamental belief about their Origin—who or what gave them their existence, made them who they are, shaped them into the person they are today.
- Who or What do you credit for who you are?
- How did you come to be the person you are?
- Where do you get your identity?
- What is it that I find my sense of belonging/significance/security in?
There is a reason why people, the community, and the world are broken. Each person has a fundamental belief about the cause of brokenness and has a deep desire for Justice in the form of Righteous Judgment. People blame their parents, family, friends, boss, government, etc. for what they’ve become AND want justice by putting the blame on someone for the pain and brokenness in the world. Everyone has a “Fall Guy” mentality—someone is to blame and someone deserves punishment.
- Why are things and people not the way they are supposed to be and who is to blame for it?
- What’s my problem?
- What’s tainted/broken/distorted/keeping me from being who I’m supposed to be?
Everyone has a solution they believe in, a remedy they look to or savior they believe in to redeem the brokenness in their life and the world. Many are looking to a philosophy. Others look to a plan for self-improvement or personal growth. Many believe some kind of reform in education or politics will change things. Everyone believes in a Redeemer or in a Self-Improvement plan of sorts.
- Who or what will rescue me and redeem what is broken?
- What’s my solution?
- What’s my savior?
- What’s going to change me/change what I’m facing, get me out of this?
- What will make everything better?
- If I had … Then I would be …
Every person has a picture of the future when everything is as it should be. Some see a utopia with all humans living at peace with each other. Others believe Mother Earth and humanity will be one. Still others see another world they will go to where they will be at the center. Some people’s future hope is to be married…have children…get a job…be rich…etc. Everyone wants something better…a restoration of what they believe their world should be like.
What will the world or your world look like when all is as it should be?
Who or what will be the focus of this world?
What would your perfect life look like?
Engaging in the Story
Once we start to understand some person or culture’s story, we want to begin to engage them in their story with the hope that we can:
- Find common ground to build from;
- Confront or Correct the inconsistencies or brokenness in their story;
- Complete their story with The Story.
Common Ground with THE STORY
As we listen carefully, we pay close attention to where the story we’re hearing lines up with the Gospel Story.
They could have whole section of The Story that they agree with; or there may be parts of a section that agree, but still miss the Gospel (i.e. Jesus did come to redeem us, but it all depends on how well we behave or perform for him).
Finding the common ground creates a point of agreement and a foundation for talking about the Gospel. Our goal is to create a foundation of relationship and/or help them discover the weakness of their foundational storyline.
Consider how Paul did this …
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
1 Cor. 1:22-25
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
What common ground does Paul start with?
How did he move from the common ground to what they didn’t yet know or believe?
To find Common Ground we’ve got to LISTEN! One of the best Gospel tools is listening to the stories of people.
We’re so bad at listening because we’re self-consumed. We’re always thinking about what we want to say next, or how we can impress the people we’re talking to.
We focus on ourselves, we listen to our flesh instead of the Spirit. We’re looking to trump the stories of others, not understand them. We listen to win, not to love. Real Gospel Listening says “I want to know you, love you, draw you out.”
We cannot assume we know what they believe about God.
If someone says “I don’t believe God loves me” there are many reasons they could believe it.
- God might not exist.
- God is an impersonal force.
- God is a very personal being but that he couldn’t love them because they are so terrible.
We need to keep asking questions to dial down to the ultimate source of their worldview (many people don’t even know where their own worldview comes from, so this will help them see where their worldview is broken… just by listening and asking questions).
Many people don’t want to engage in conversations with Christians about spiritual things because they feel we don’t really want to listen.
We must spend time listening and asking questions so we can see the open and closed doors in their own stories to the gospel. As we ask questions, we want to bring people to the end of themselves — to help them realize just how empty what they are trusting in is. But we must love them and genuinely want to listen to learn about them… not so we can find a weak point in their armor and exploit it.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. (but you can salt his oats)
Lets look at another example from Scripture… This time Jesus
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of waterwelling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Do you see what Jesus did there? He knew enough about her story to touch on her deepest need. When her need was then revealed He showed how He was the thing she was really longing for.
As we listen, we ask three questions to try to identify where the Gospel applies to their story:
- Where does their story line up with the truth of the Gospel? (These are open doors, common ground.)
- Where are they going to have a closed door to the Gospel? (Exchanging the truth of God for a lie.)
- Where have they come to the end of themselves in being opposed to the Gospel? (What is their deepest need?)
Who are some people whose stories you could learn? Who has God brought into your mind right now that you need to listen too their story?
Confront and Correct the Inconsistencies or Brokenness in Stories
At some point through dialog it is important to identify where the story they believe in does not hold up. Generally, one or more fundamental parts of their story do not line up with the rest of their story OR the life they’re living does not line up with the story they hold to.
If we are listening closely to a Christian’s story, our goal is to help them see where their life or doctrine does not line up with the truth of the Gospel.
If the person is an unbeliever, our desire is to encourage them to work out the fullness of their story’s implications to see where they do not or will not live fully in line with their own story OR that their story will not accomplish what they hope it will.
Let’s take for instance someone who is a workaholic. If we drill down into their story we will most likely find that they derive their worth and status in life by their performance in their job. (now before I go any further, working hard for your employer is a good thing. IF it is done for the right purpose.) So in this scenario, they are created to do good work. (That agrees with the Gospel Eph 2:10) But what is wrong, what is broken in that system? It could be that their boss doesn’t give them the recognition they crave. Or maybe they own their own business and their worth is tied to the success of their business. There could be a bunch of different answers but ultimately what is broken is they have to work more and harder to keep up. So who or what is the solution? They are, They have to work harder and longer. The real question is How is that going for them? Is there satisfaction in that? How long can that last? Eventually they are going to implode. So how does the Gospel apply to that scenario? Reveal the need and let them struggle with it.
Ask them questions that make them want to have that need met
Do you ever wish you could find a job that really satisfied. I mean something that you really loved but also something that didn’t mean you had to sacrifice everything to be sucessful?
Warning this is a SLOW process.
Remember you first priority is to create a relationship with them.
If you are talking to unbelievers don’t dump on them everything you know or see that you think is an open door.
Ask questions and seed the conversations with enough to make them curious.
Show them they are a worshiping something in their life and how it doesn’t fulfill.
Revisit Rom 1 pattern.
What do you think you are worshiping?
Ask them if they see that pattern in their lives?
Don’t give them all the answers… Let the Holy Spirit draw them to Himself
Don’t Jump the shark!
Completion of Their Story with THE STORY
Finally, once we become clear on where their story is incomplete, broken, or not based on the truth, we look for opportunities to show how only The Gospel Story corrects and completes their story. If we listen closely, we should be able to share with them The Story so that it speaks Good News to their story. We should tell the Story in such a way that they want it to be true since it answers the deep questions and longings they are looking to another story to fulfill.
Then seed the Gospel tell them what it is like in the Kingdom
I have to tell you about my boss. He is incredible. He provides everything to me that I need to do my job well, He sees when I am working too hard, and he tells me to slow down, take a rest. He lets me know that my position is always secure no matter what my performance is like. And the benefits are incredible. I have the best investment portfolio you have ever seen! (Stay silent – Salt the oats)
We give them Good News before Good Advice
We talk about Jesus before we talk about the problem
How do I grow in Gospel Fluency?
Try this with your own story first. You might share this with some others that are close to you:
- What key events or experience have most significantly shaped your life? Identify 5-10 of them.
- In what ways has the Gospel Story better interpreted or completed those events or experiences?
- How are some of those events or experiences still writing the dominant storyline for you?
- How does the Gospel speak to that?
- What key hopes, dreams, or life changes are you looking forward to? Identify 5-10 of them.
- How are they grounded in the Story of the Gospel?
- Where do they need to be corrected or completed by the Gospel Story?
Consider doing this same exercise for another Christian you know, or for someone you are trying to reach with the Gospel (with as much info as you already know OR make it your goal to begin to know their story well enough so you can do this.)
Ask the Right Questions
Learning how to compare beliefs/storylines with the Gospel Story takes time and practice. These questions can be very helpful as you try to see where a belief or story does or does not line up with the Gospel. To find out what part of the Gospel someone isn’t believing, ask:
- What do we know about God that’s true that they aren’t believing? (God is Gracious, Good, Glorious, Great…)
- What has He done for us in Christ Jesus? (What are they counting on to do that Jesus has already done?)
- Who are we in Christ? (How is that different from what they’re using to define themselves?)
- How then should we live? (How will an understanding of the truth change behavior/attitudes?)
As we look at the fruit on the outside of our lives (anxiety, fear, selfishness, etc.) we want to find out what in our heart is driving that. What do we believe, what do we care about, what is going on in our heart to cause those things? It’s always connected to what we believe about God; our beliefs about God are like the roots that pull in the nutrients to create the fruit on the outside. If our roots are drawing from the well of our flesh and our own stories, we get bad fruit. If our roots are drawing from the deep truths of God and the Gospel…the fruit will be from the Spirit.
Don’t forget practice taking every thought captive, to demolish the strongholds in your life. When you are experiencing fear, anxiety, anger,
etc., do this:
1) Capture your thought. (Go through the four questions above.)
2) Compare it to Jesus.
3) Confess your unbelief and sin.
Confess your anxiety, doubt, fear, selfishness, etc. to God as the sin that it is, rooted in unbelief in the Gospel. Ask Him to remind you of the Gospel truth, of who He is, of who you are because of Him…that is Gospel Repentance. And it’s practicing Gospel Fluency. If you make this a part of your own personal thought and prayer life, it will start to bear fruit as you interact with others.
Remember the Gospel—you will grow in Gospel Fluency by being filled with the Holy Spirit’s power and wisdom. Your growth is not a work you must do to please God. Ask God to help you believe the Gospel, to give you wisdom as you look at your story and the stories of others. Ask God to give you the courage to learn stories and then engage with the Gospel. Knowing this stuff about the Gospel and even being able to connect stories with the Gospel Story isn’t enough. We must take action. Pray that God would help you believe the truth of all elements of the Gospel so that you would truly engage others with it.
Remember, this will take time! Fluency cannot be gained in a day, a week, or even a year. Let the Spirit massage this into your heart and mind, and continually bring the focus back to the Gospel. As you are shaped by the Gospel, you will be able to speak it to others, and we will grow up into Christ as we speak the truth to one another in love.
Hear is what I want to offer. If you have a question on how to do this or need help in doing this, I want you to come talk to me. We will work on it together.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ
For more from this series you can CLICK HERE.
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