This story may not be new to you, but the way the story touches us, the way we internalize it and are transformed by it, the way we make the story our own, is radically different from anything we might have ever discovered.
Indeed, we are part of a larger drama that God is directing. As one person recently told me, "What God has in store five years from now is none of my business." Our business is seeing how God has been working through history and how we are being shaped by that story. The way our story intersects with God's story as a drama has been described variously by different authors but Lavender and Holloway reference J. Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh, Truth is stranger than it used to be (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1995), 182.
Here are the six acts of God's drama that Holloway and Lavender lay out in chapter 2 of Living God's Love:
- Act 1: Creation
- Act 2: Fall
- Act 3: Israel
- Act 4: Jesus
- Act 5: Church
- Act 6: Return of Jesus
Seems simple but it's more messy when we begin to become uneasy with our theatre chair and find ourselves on stage in the drama. Neither are we the director but we are fellow participants in the drama of God's story. When we read Romans 5-7 we realize we have more in common with Adam than Jesus but by the grace of God we are joined in union with Christ. By sin the one man brought death and we're of that one man, Adam. Yet by the one man, Jesus Christ, we have been made alive and join with him.
When we read various stories in the Bible, who do we identify with? The righteous ones? Do we berate and belittle the Jews when they throw earrings in the fire and out comes a golden calf? Do we find Aaron guilty or do we see ourselves with a fist full of rings, waiting in anticipation for what idol comes out of the fire? Do we absolve ourselves of the sin and deception we see in Jacob's life? Do we think Lot's wife was so different from us when we long for comforts of home, take our hand from the plow and away from the narrow path and look back? The difference here is perspective and through whose eyes we see the story. We've been trained to read Scripture from on high, working it to our advantage, proving our points, making ourselves the good guys. We are the woman at the well . . . or perhaps we are one of the five men who discarded this poor Samaritan woman that Jesus had pity on, on whom he pronounced the blessing of living water and sent her on her way as the first to proclaim the gospel message "come and see." [Some of these last lines of reflection here come from hearing John York's sermon this Sunday at Woodmont]
We have been experiencing a journey ourselves, but do we consider ourselves part of God's story? Or do we co-opt God's story for our own purposes, shaping the story into our own story, making God into our image. The reverse should happen: the story shapes us, we are formed into God's image when God's story becomes our story, when our story melts into union with the story much bigger than us, much more profound than our personal journeys. This is the story that God is authoring.
For Personal Reflection (from Living God's Love)
How do you view the biblical story? Do you see yourself in the story as part of God's redemptive plan? If so, how does that shape your life today?
Why do you think Israel misunderstood God's purpose for them? How can we avoid the same mistake?
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Do you see your work as something that allows you to get by, or as an opportunity to embody God's kingdom?