Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Telling the story that tells
The newspaper news conference. Editors present possible content from the sections they are responsible for, competing for space, and are often called to explain: “What’s the real story here?
HAVING worked on newspapers and magazines at various times in my life, the word ‘story’ has a particular meaning for me. It reminds me of the daily and weekly news conference about what to include. As each item is presented, the editor’s question is simply: “What’s the story here?”
That means: “What is it really about? What’s memorable here? What changed?” And depending on how good an answer you give, you get to write the length of a lead article, or you have to work with tighter word limit. Lesson number one in communication is: “What does the hearer (or reader) want to hear?”
That is a big steer when it comes to our 100-word mini story, about the good news of Jesus and us. What is the bit of our story that they want to hear? What is going to connect? What in our story might be life-changing for the hearer?
What is the effect of the Gospel on us? That’s the question your story and mine will answer. We’ll answer that same question but tell it in different ways according to where God touched us the most.
The story we want to share is really a story of before and after, and the difference. When we come to Christ and turn our lives over to Him, our old self is evicted and a new self arrives and moves in. That’s a statement about what happens spiritually. What they want to know is, what was that like? And what is the difference now?
When someone opens a conversational door by asking why you are so fired up about your relationship with Christ, tell them! What was going on before? Since you met Him, what has been going on? It doesn’t need to be dramatic – just focused and brief – and true.
Here are a couple of people who met with Jesus, and we’ll think about what their stories would have been like. John 9 starts with an account of Jesus travelling along when He is approached by a man who is described as being blind from birth. On this occasion Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva and put it on the blind man’s eyes. He then told him to take his muddy face to the Pool of Siloam and wash off. As he did, he began to see and he returned home seeing.
Imagine the mixed-up feelings of his family members and friends. The man they were used to helping to do everything was a different man. When they asked him about this Jesus person – what’s the story here? – his story was crystal clear. He said: “I was blind. And now I can see.”
There was another person who came back home changed, and that was the woman who was found out having an affair (John 8:3-9). Under judgment by the Pharisees, she came close to never returning home again. The encounter with Jesus was an encounter with grace, of being washed clean. It was a change from being condemned and shamed, to being forgiven and given a new life.
What do you suppose her story was like? Could she – did she – could she do anything BUT tell it in that short, focused way that we have been discussing?