Editor’s Note: Below is a guest post from Casey Cease. Casey is an Acts 29 Church Planter in Magnolia Texas and has recently released a book telling his story, Tragedy to Truth. If you get it before February 24, you will also receive a whack load of other books and CD’s, including my book Through the Eyes of C.H. Spurgeon!
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Every Christian has a story to tell of how God rescued them from sin and death, into life and righteousness through Jesus Christ. As we see in these verses, the Apostle Paul understood that God’s redemptive work in him through Jesus Christ was not only so that he might be saved from his sin and placed into a right relationship with God, but also, it might serve as an illustration to those who do not yet believe.
God’s story through our stories
Often times people have not thought through their story enough to be able to articulate it in a manner that conveys their need for rescue and forgiveness, and God’s sent solution through Jesus Christ. Instead, it either becomes a glorification of their former sin or a boastful tirade of who they worked hard to become. Both instances are in error: they put us at the center of the story instead of God since our stories are a part of God’s bigger story.
One of the most helpful exercises I was ever encouraged to do was by one of my mentors when he challenged me to tell my story in three minutes or less. To be honest, I have an intense story, so condensing it down into three minutes, while including the redemption that occurred through Christ was challenging. However, it forced me to focus on what was most important in my story by being able to illustrate what was most important in God’s story, which is God’s grace to us through Jesus Christ.
The point of the story is Jesus
I’d encourage you to take some time and think through how your story is a part of a larger story. It is God’s story. Perhaps you grew up in a faithful Christian home and came to faith at a young age, then boast in God’s grace and how you, a sinner, didn’t deserve any of what he gave you. Maybe you were a religious kid who grew up knowing all of the “right” answers, but your heart was far from God. Maybe you didn’t grow up in a Christian family. In any case, discuss how your sin and depravity was ultimately and completely redeemed through Jesus Christ, and how this salvation and redemption continues to be applied even today. Regardless of where you were prior to Christ, the point is that Jesus doesn’t just make us better—he makes us new! (See 2 Corinthians 5:17.)
6 tips when telling your story
Be honest about where you were, where you are, and where you sense Jesus leading you. Here are a few things to think about as you work to craft your story in a helpful way:
- Who were you before you met Jesus? For some, this is an easy question to answer, for others, it is a revealing question. Don’t try to make it more or less than it is, just be honest about who you were without Jesus.
- How did you first hear of Jesus? Was it a family member, friend, pamphlet, etc.? What was your initial response? Did you believe the first time you heard?
- What was your conversion like? Was it sudden, gradual, substantial, or simple? How did it feel? How was it applied (i.e. were there immediate changes, or gradual changes)?
- What is the most important thing you have learned about Jesus since your conversion? This is important, and may not be only one thing, but it might be helpful to have one theme going throughout your story when you prepare to share it with others. Was he your Redeemer? If so, what did he redeem you from?
- How has your view of yourself changed in view of your relationship with Jesus? What lies did you believe about yourself before you met Jesus? What truth has replaced those lies?
- How does your story best point people to Jesus? Is it a story of a criminal being forgiven of a crime? Is it one who was dead because of their sin finding life? Is it a story about someone being lost, then being found? Sound familiar? There are stories like this all over the Bible. There are stories like this being written today. You are a part of God’s story!
The aim of our stories is ultimately to point people to Jesus. Our stories are not to tell people how great we are now—they’re sober realizations of who we were without Christ and a hopeful presentation of who we hope to become in him. What is your story? Think through it, organize it, and then share it often.