The story you live by will, to a large degree, determines your future. It is critical for interpreting our world, our lives, and our future. We do not often think about it this way, but we subtly live this way in principle.
How the Past Can Determine Our Future
It is hard to not be affected by our past. Sometimes its scars run deep. The way people often make us feel grows into a toxic identity—a negative approach to how we our selves. If we have been hurt, failed, been abused, violated, alienated, this can lay an awfully heavy burden on our sense of self-worth. Through our past, we often come to define ourselves by how people have made us feel.
We have a tendency to define ourselves by how our inner person views the world because of what we have experienced. This does not mean you cannot escape your past. You can. What it does mean though is we must be careful to not let our feelings, especially those impressed on us by others define us. The past can determine our future, but only if we let it.
An Objective Gospel
The Gospel story is also history. It took place in time and space. It is something that is objective, not subjective. The Gospel is outside of us. Regardless of how we are feeling at any given moment, the gospel comes to us sure and steadfast. The story of Jesus doesn’t leak or move.
What this means is that this story provides a stable interpretive paradigm through which to reinterpret, reshape, and renew our lives.
The Structure of Interpretive Paradigms
Thomas Khun, in his provocative book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, made a rather controversial proposition. He subjected the so-called “objectivity” of science to the rigors of philosophical consideration.
In documenting the history of science, Kuhn pointed out how science goes through phases of interpretive paradigms. These “paradigms” are basically “narratives” or so-called “metanarratives”—stories used to filter and interpret the data.
The problem with these paradigms is that at some point if they are not corrected, they begin failing to be useful, namely because they can no longer make good sense of all the data. This is what leads to the “scientific revolution.” Once so much data amasses that no longer fits the paradigm, it forces a reevaluation or paradigm shift. The old narrative is discarded and a new one is born.
The key point here is that Kuhn demonstrates the impossibility of the human race to interpret reality apart from a story that explains what we experience. And even the scientific community, that often prides itself on its objectivity finds itself quite unable to operate apart from a “story paradigm.”
The Gospel Interprets Reality
The Gospel is the interpretive paradigm God has given us to interpret our reality. Who we are, where we are in the universe, our purpose, and destiny are all meant to be explained in the story of the crucified man resurrected and enthroned. This story is about liberation, freedom, healing, and triumph over the darkness.
As we are steeped in God’s story, a new identity arises from the cinders of our fragile and broken lives. We might call this the resurrection of our identity both through Christ and in Christ.
At the heart of the Gospel is the infinite value of mankind. From the beginning of the story at creation, till the end, man is created in the image of God—created with dignity, purpose, and a royal destiny. From the moment mankind first opened is eyes, he was on a journey, a journey for God, to God, and with God.
In the New Testament, that place has a name—glory. The lectionary reading the 22nd week of Pentecost includes 2 Thessalonians:
2Th. 2:13–14 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this, he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes—“that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has determined that the end for mankind is glory, a glory only found in a renewed relationship to God as savior.
Putting the Power Source at the Center
The Gospel puts the center back into the puzzle of our wayward lives. Over the last three decades, with the advances in technology and space telescopes, our knowledge of the universe has grown exponentially. One major discovery is the verified proof of black holes. Something quite ironic since they are invisible! That begs the question, how do you prove something invisible is actually there. Well, that is not uncommon. Air and wind are also invisible, but we can document the effects of the wind without question.
As astronomers studied various galaxies, almost forty of them, they kept their eyes on the odd and unexplainable orbits of stars near the galactic centers. Stars and space objects in orbit normally orbit things with gravity. But there were all these objects orbiting nothing—or so it seemed. That was until it was proposed that the theory of a black hole was in fact not theory at all. These astronomers reevaluated these orbits by theorizing what they would call a “supermassive” black hole at the center of almost all the galaxies. When they did this, all these odd orbits were explained.
Though invisible, they found there to be a supermassive black hole at the center of almost all of the galaxies in question. At the center of our Milky Way Galaxy lies the Supermassive Sagittarius A-Star (Sgr A*). The center story of all these unexplainable orbits was reentered. That is precisely what the Gospel does with our lives. Though often seeming quite invisible, the Gospel is there, and when we begin to embrace it, it makes sense of our world in a way no other story can.
The Story Continues
Through the death, burial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ “took place” in Judea some two thousand years ago, the story yet continues. Jesus was not just resurrected. He ascended to the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet. 3:22) It is there your story continues. Jesus had an earthly ministry to obtain a cosmic ministry to us.
The Story not only continues in heaven, it continues in his people. If you have entrusted your story to Him, it continues in you right now. Whatever your pain, suffering, brokenness, or alienation, through the power of God’s Spirit, Jesus’ resurrection triumph is now yours and that story reshaping us for grace and goodness.