One of my favorite authors is a British writer named Terry Pratchett. A thread that traveled through his books was called narrativium. Narrativium was an element that all people had built into them. What Pratchett meant by using narrativium was that a part of what made people into human beings was stories. The stronger the story, or the narrative, the more that it changed the life of the person involved.
Sadly, Terry Pratchett was not a Christian. He was a humanist and either an agnostic or atheist depending on the day. However in this thread of narrativium I believe that he catches an essential truth about Christianity. Christianity is a strong narrative, driven through the very Word of God, that changes us from those who are lost to children of God.
That narrative begins, “God said.” God spoke the world into existence. The first thing that was said was the beginning of the most powerful story ever told. God made the world, and everything in it from angels to crickets by speaking.
Man would require a hands-on approach. God formed man from the dirt of His created world and breathed into him the breath of life. What a story!
Some of us know how the story goes. Adam and Eve defied God and the perfect world that God had created sputtered and began to grind. Things didn’t run as they were meant to. People died. But God didn’t leave things there. He promised a Redeemer. One who would buy back and set right this broken world.
This Redeemer was there in the beginning, and always part of the story. The beginning of The Gospel of John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1: 1-5
No matter how the world sputtered and groaned, here was the Redeemer that was there from the beginning. God Himself becomes man and begins the monumental task of setting things right.
John the Baptist, doing his work of preparing the way for Jesus, sees Him and announces God made man to the crowd surrounding him. Once again from the Gospel of John: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’” John 1: 29-30
What an introduction! And the story just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Jesus, God made man, takes on the sins, the things we do that separate us from God, of the world, in His baptism. Therefore He carries all of our sins with Him to the cross. As we are baptized into Him when He dies our sins die.
Every time that we look upon a cross and remember that this is true, we can remember that God and man are reconciled. Once again from John, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
What a story, this is a dialogue so strong that it changes us.
That narrative changes people. It is so important that the story begins to drive us. One last clip from the beginning of the Gospel of John, “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’” John 1: 45-46
We, who have been saved, are so moved, so changed that we cannot help but to echo Philip, “Come and See.” See where I find peace. Hear the ancient story. This is why I am who I am. This is why I do what I do. The narrativium takes over through the Word of God. We gain an identity and a purpose. We are Christians. We follow Jesus.
Reverend Andrew Becker is pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, Buena Vista. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.