perspective (what story do we live by?)

I was reminded yesterday from Scot McKnight’s excellent, challenging new book, Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church, just how the story we buy into can make all the difference in the world for good or ill with reference to God’s kingdom come in Jesus. Here in America, whether in the political landscape, the evangelical culture, and elsewhere there are plenty of stories in which people land. Much to choose from. Not that we necessarily choose at all. It’s more like we imbibe and are drawn into certain stories for a host of reasons.

There’s the American political conservative position versus the American “liberal,” progressive one. There’s the American dream in which one “makes it.” And others, including variations.

A story is a narrative or ideal into which one “buys” into and by which they order their lives. And if they somehow fail to live up to that, at least much if not all seems lost. How they measure and assess their lives is in terms of that. Or how they judge the state or governing authorities.

While there may be good in these stories which we can sort out, any of them can become nothing short of idols. Or at least can get us off track of God’s calling for us in Jesus. This begs the question: just what is the story we are called to live in, in Jesus?

The church would say that the story is God’s grace and kingdom come in Jesus. It is one of seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness with the promise that all of one’s needs will then be met. It is life in Jesus in the fellowship of the church in the word and sacraments and in mission to the world. It is a value system at odds and clashing with all the other value systems, a story counter to the other stories. It is strictly speaking a story which stands on its own, even if it doesn’t fill in all the blanks in how to live that out in the cultural context in which we live.

We need to ask ourselves just what story are we buying into, or what story might be unduly affecting us, not for good, but for ill. And what story we need to understand better and live into more in and through King Jesus by the Spirit to the glory of God.