Thursday, April 22, 2010

I love to tell the story…

Many of you, I’m sure, recognize the above quote. If not, look up #480 in the hymnal, and you’ll find an old favorite hymn of the Christian Church. The premise of the song is simple: We, as Christians, share a story about Jesus that matters to us deeply, and it’s possible that we love that story so much, we want to tell others. Maybe it’ll matter to them too!

Alas, for all the invigorated passion that comes with singing this song, it’s rare indeed we encounter folk for whom it’s always, everyday true. And if we do, often the passion with which some tell Jesus’ story seems off-putting, or even judgmental. And yet…do you ever feel that you should be that kind of Christian, who loves to tell Jesus’ story to others? And yet, you can’t bring yourself to speak up if the occasion presents itself? I do. And I’m a preacher! I mean, I don’t want to be an obnoxious Christian. But I do believe Jesus’ story can change lives for the better, when told authentically and with an open mind. It changed my life, after all, and continues to still.

Well, a friend recently talked about this dynamic in a way I found helpful, so I thought I’d pass her wisdom along. It involves a citrus peeler. As all good insights of faith do (or not…).

Turns out, my friend bought a citrus peeler awhile back, and WOW, how she loved it! It’s like the culinary world opened before her. And with that minute object, she was master of that world. It cost only a dollar, but it allowed her to peel an orange better, faster and with greater joy than she ever imagined possible. So she bought three more. But her love did not abide solely in the splendid confines of her kitchen (and purse, and office…). She took that love with her when she entered the outside world. She located her friends, and inevitably, the following conversation (or something like it) ensued, “Wow, guess what just happened?!” “I don’t know, what? And why do you smell like oranges?” “I found the most incredible tool known to humankind!” “An Amazon Kindle? A pair of skis?” “NO! Even better. I just got a citrus peeler!” So she regaled her friends with stories of this mythic, yet very real accessory, and all she did with it, and what great fun she had in the meantime.

Turns out, after many retellings of how much she loved her citrus peeler(s), her friends joined the bandwagon, and purchased peelers of their own. They, of course, discovered how it could be useful for their unique purposes. But one by one, the citrus peeler phenomenon grew, until the story wasn’t hers alone to love any longer.

Now, if you think about it, we probably have things that are similar to her citrus peeler. For me, it’s my favorite ski mountain (Winter Park, CO!), or the Indian food restaurant on 494 and Rockford Road (Royal India). And her spiritual insight about this was simple: maybe sharing the story of Jesus is like her love of the citrus peeler. After all, what Jesus did for the world- his death and resurrection, his profoundly courageous moral and spiritual teachings- matters to many of us in ways much greater than even a citrus peeler ever could. So why don’t we treat Jesus’ story like we treat these other things that matter to us?

Good question! Maybe it’s because Jesus’ love is so personal, it’s harder to put in words. Or maybe it’s because we confuse “church” with “Jesus,” and so think telling the story isn’t about sharing our love of Jesus, but rather getting more people to come to church. Which somehow feels devious, or like we’re simply marketing a product. I don’t know. I’m sure you have ideas of your own. But one thing I do know is y’all love Jesus. So my prayer for all of us this week is we feel that love even greater, perhaps so much so we’re inspired to tell others we love why our Jesus love makes our lives so fun.

Grace and Peace,


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