We live in a great love story, set in the midst of a war.
- John Eldridge, Waking the Dead
But Monday I was working on our story for this week, and I started thinking, hey, we could use a little break. It would be good to review the stories we've learned so far and soak in the truth that they are telling us. Apparently God thought so, too, so we got our break this week, courtesy of Snow.
So let's review the Love Story we've been learning, starting with the lens that Paul gives us in his letter to the Ephesians.
Ephesus was the home of the temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Like Nashville is Music City, Ephesus was Artemis City. Every tradesman in town was making their livelihood by making Artemis trinkets. Artemis keychains, Artemis t-shirts, little silver Artemis statues. So when believers in Ephesus gave up the goddess Artemis, they worried who would secure their identity and their destiny? Paul wrote these words to assure them:
- Ephesians 1:33-23, The Message
Here is the truth I hope you soak in this week:
You are deeply, deeply loved.
The hero of the Love Story in the Bible is God. Like all heroes, he has something he wants, and he is willing to overcome any obstacle to get it. That something he wants, he loves, he is pursuing: is you. He had you in mind as he created the world.
God is bringing you a life that is far better than anything you could ever go out and get for yourself.
We Americans, we value achievement, and we like to get attention for our achievements. And I suspect we are a little bit disappointed with the truth of the Gospel, which is God loves us, not because of anything we've done or not done, but because he chose to. It's okay with us that he offers this freely to everyone else, but we would like to think that there's a special door we enter through because we did something to earn it. We are so driven to feel special that even the astounding truth that the Creator of the Universe completely loves us is not special enough.
But here is the truth: God created everything, including you. Out of sheer delight and love. You were made for a relationship with him, and he offers that life of love at the hand of his Son. Take his offer, and you have a new way of life, empowered by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live out our identity and destiny. That is what God promised you, and every day he is working to make good on that promise.
It doesn't always feel that way.
Every story has a villain. The villain in the Love Story of the Bible is Satan. Not you. That's important to remember: the war is not God vs. you, it's God's vs. Satan. Because every villain has something he wants, and he is willing to overcome anything to get it. Satan wants God's place. So he will compete for your heart and mind. The enemy will not see you vanish into God's company without an effort to reclaim you. (C.S. Lewis)
Every story has a third set of characters. There's the hero, the protagonist. The villain, the antagonist. And there are the agonists. That's us. Caught up in the struggle between the hero and the villain. And doesn't it feel like agony sometimes?
Yeah, don't trust your feelings. Feelings never tell you the Love Story, the story of God. They tell you the story of You.
So this is our challenge: to believe the story of God, and to know how to tell it. And to know that we are part of it; our daily lives are a great love story set in a war.
So far we've learned five parts of the Love Story. Take this week to go back and listen to each of them again. Practice telling them. Tell them to your friends, your spouse, your children and grandchildren. Watch and pray for the moment when you're having a conversation with somebody, and God says, "Tell them this story."
You can find all five stories on this blog under the posts "Love Story." At the end of each post, click on the link to listen to the story and download a little study material to help you understand it and tell it well.
Who will you tell a story to this week?