Why is it that the simple story is never enough?
God’s story of redemption is the most amazing, world-changing power in the universe; beyond the universe really. And yet it is never enough for us. This is especially evident in the history of the missionary movement. We always depend on everything other than the Gospel. There have been “great” men and women of faith in the missionary movement. Explorers, revolutionaries, slave-liberators, and human rights champions. There have been scientists, agriculturists, medical wonder workers and heralds of the wonders of modernity. All of them changing the world with advancements and cultural shifts; with the Gospel of Jesus Christ tacked on.
Even today, outside of the third world realms we look for an edge. Can we change a city through art, freedom, enlightenment, or simply by being the coolest thing to come around? Can we befriend the “greats” in the community, the politicians, the artists, the captains of industry? If we could, then surely we could bring the Gospel without resistance right?
Well, we might change a culture that way, but it doesn’t lead to the goal of Kingdom advancement. Advancing Christendom does not mean an advance of the Gospel.
Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect on God’s plan to change the world. A baby born to a poor couple in filth. A fragile life with no safety net, no real fanfare. Oh sure, shepherds and a few Magi turned up, but the world wasn’t exactly aware of the shift that had occurred. God slipped quietly into flesh.
A short life and even shorter public ministry later, and a small congregation of a few dozen individuals were left to carry the story forward. Oh, culture was changed alright, but often in spite of the Gospel. God uses His church, a little “called out” minority, incarnating His story. Over time its ideas and ethics were institutionalized, but the quiet, little wave of world-changers moves on in spite of that institution. Always through the story.
So, tonight, is the story enough?