I Love to Tell the Story
Last Monday I received an email from a member, affirming last week's sermon, "I Am A Missionary." One thing the member said is, "I wanted to yell out, 'Tell your story.' Being a missionary is as simple as telling people what your life was like before God and after God in your life." The member fully anticipated this week's sermon, which is about telling our story as witnesses.
It reminded me of the old hymn, "I Love to Tell the Story." In part, that hymn says this:
I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
There are actually two stories intertwined in the song, and in the glorious, intimidating calling to be a witness. The most important story is the story "of Jesus and His love," that compelled Him to come to seek and to save the lost and to lay down His life on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sin. The second story is also important because it is the bridge over which the first story is told. The second story is the story of how Jesus "did so much for me."
When Mary Magdalene met the angel at Jesus' tomb on resurrection morning, the angel told her, "Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.'" (Matthew 28:6-7 NIV) That is the rhythm of witnessing: Come and see, then go and tell.
We humans are created with a longing to know God. That longing is fulfilled in meeting, trusting, falling in love with and following Jesus. The longing for a relationship with God is not met in learning the Bible, even though studying the Bible to find Jesus there is important. What gives hope that one can know God through Christ and have one's life changed is the story of someone else who has met Jesus and had their life changed.
We love to tell the stories of great things that happen in our lives. We tell stories about a teacher or coach who impacted us. We tell stories about the glory of playing on the team at school. We tell stories about the great bargain we found at the supermarket on our favorite beverage - BOGO! (Buy One, Get One free, for you non-shoppers out there.) Telling the story of something wonderful that happens in our lives comes naturally for us, in most areas of our lives. Somehow we hold back in telling how God has changed our lives, don't we?
I find that most people I meet outside the church I pastor respond defensively when someone tries to convince them they are wrong about a belief in God or mostly about anything else! Arguing morality or Scripture has brought very few people into a relationship with Jesus. But I find that most people respond well when I tell the story of how Jesus has answered a prayer or helped me in my life in some other way. That's especially true if I have already treated them well in friendship and caring.
Telling the story of how Jesus has changed my life is a powerful way to witness. The rhythm of witnessing is still true. Come and see, then go and tell. The Apostle Paul points out the importance of telling the world about Jesus in a series of rhetorical questions in Romans 10:13-15: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?"
"I love to tell the story. It did so much for me. And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee." Every follower of Jesus has a story to tell. I pray for love and boldness to tell the story of Jesus and His impact on my life whenever I have the opportunity. And I trust that God can and will use the telling of the story of Jesus within the story of my life to attract others to Him.
Come and see, then go and tell. Lord, may this be a natural rhythm of my life in Christ.