Often when someone is sitting on my kitchen stool, she tells me stories. Stories about her history, her relationships, her struggles. And I tell stories, too. Stories about my history, my relationships, my struggles. Our stories intertwine and intersect, inspiring us both as the truths we’ve learned over time guide our words. But there is one story that undergirds both our histories. This story must be told first… we both must understand it before our conversation goes anywhere helpful. This is the story of the gospel.
Do you know this one? You’ve probably heard it before. If you have, pull up a stool and hear it again, fresh. If you haven’t, then this may be the story you’ve been waiting to hear all your life.
The gospel is the ultimate story of good news and bad news. In fact, all good stories follow its pattern. Ready for the bad news? The Scriptures give it to us straight: left to ourselves, we are alienated from God (see Colossians 1:9-14, 21-23). This means that we couldn’t relate to God even if we wanted to. Because in order to have a relationship with a perfect God, we must be perfect, and we all know that isn’t possible. (Right? Right.) Not only are we alienated from God, but Colossians tells us we also have hostile minds, meaning… you guessed it, we don’t even want to relate to God. The bad news gets even worse… we live in darkness and we can’t get out. Our lives are self-destructing and we’re helpless to change. Been there?
But, thankfully, the gospel also tells us the really good news. Through His life and death, Christ did for you what you could never do for yourself. First, He lived the perfect life you could never hope to live. Then He voluntarily died in your place, taking the punishment you deserve. God then raised Jesus from the dead (!), disarming the power of sin over you forever. As a result, if you believe in Christ, you can enjoy being reconciled to God because your sins have been erased. You are finally able to relate to Him! You’ve been delivered from darkness and given light to walk in. You’ve been made new and have a glorious inheritance to look forward to: eternal life with the One who made you and loves you perfectly (see Colossians 1:11-14). I told you it was good news!
Believing this true story of the gospel is where it all begins. It is the beginning point of a person’s conversion to Christianity. A person recognizes that he cannot save himself, that left to himself he will continue living an evil, frustrated life that is without hope. He renounces other “saviors” that offer false promises of salvation, and he places his trust in the only One who has the ability and authority to save him, Jesus Christ.
This story makes our stories worth telling. The gospel gives me hope. My history does not have to rule me. My relationships can be transformed. My struggles can be overcome. Now we can have a conversation.