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I really wanted to sing, to worship. But there was a line in the refrain that didn’t sit well in my soul. The idea? That Jesus left heaven to come to earth to “enter into our story.”

Now, of course, the incarnation–the Son of God taking on human life to carry out the Father’s plan for dealing with sin on planet earth–does seem to be something like Jesus “entering into our story.” He did leave heaven and “became flesh and dwelt among us.” But the refrain still didn’t sit well with me.

Perhaps it was because the song seemed to lean in the direction of praising God because of how he came to join us in our story rather than celebrating God’s overthrowing of our stories and drawing us into his one story.

I don’t want to be critical. I’m not trying to misread or over-react to a simple worship song. But it seemed to be like other things I hear in church circles. As if we are at the center of what God is doing, that he is most concerned with entering into our lives to make our individual stories make sense, as if rescuing us from sin is about . . . primarily . . . about us. And it’s right there that I stumble and wonder.

When writing to the Ephesians about the great good news that has come to them, Paul seems quite clear that what God is doing is for the praise of the glory of his grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12). That he is working all that he is doing for his own purposes (1:5, 9, 11). Although we are the beneficiaries of his benevolence, we are not the focus, or the reason, or the center. His glory is. It is about him, not primarily about us.

In Acts 2, where we read Peter’s first “Gospel message,” although Peter’s hearers are in view, the focus of the proclamation is what God is doing in Jesus for his own purposes. Read the message. It’s fascinating to see how un-like it is to many “Gospel messages” these days. It is all about what God did and was doing for his own sake through Jesus.

The message focuses on God making Jesus his promised king, on God raising his Son from the dead so that the Son could have that throne, about the Father exalting the Son to his “right hand,” about the Son receiving the promised gift of the Spirit. And the message ends with this call: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

It feels like Peter’s take and Paul’s perspective is that God is writing his story and has invaded the world in the person of the Son in order to carry out his intentions and plans. It’s not that God’s story doesn’t impact and effect our individual stories. It’s more that what God is doing is not about our stories as much as it about him.

I could be appreciative of a God who entered into my story in order to make it make sense to me. But I don’t think that elicits the kind of worship that rises in my heart when I catch a glimpse of God drawing us into his story, for his own sake, for the display of his glory, so that he might become the center and the focus of all of life.

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2 Comments

  1. I just reread the LORD’s response to Job. I do believe that Job would agree with you about who’s story should be the focus of all life.

    Thank you!

  2. Absolutely, Doug! Wonderful observation. That God cared for Job is clear. That God’s work in the world had an impact on Job is obvious. But that the story was about Job . . . not primarily! The story is about God and his glory. Amen to that.


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