But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
1 Peter 3:14–16, NRSV
Our lives are made up of stories. Stories are the way we make sense of life. Stories tell us who we are, where we have come from and where we are going. The same applies to God’s revelation to us.
Much of the Bible is story or narrative. In those stories we see God’s interaction with people and learn about God’s nature by seeing how God interacts with other people.
Stories are powerful! Your story is powerful! That’s right. Telling the story of how God has changed your life and helped you through different challenges is a very powerful thing.
Your Story is Yours
People may be able to argue with your doctrines and propositions, but your story stands tall. Why? Your story is your experience with God and your experience with God is yours. Now, to be honest, your story needs to rest on sound doctrine and be the general tenor of Scripture – no fairies, trolls or special potions.
Your story helps people identify with you in the struggles of life and God’s help in those challenges . Our stories can give people hope in their struggles.
Peter is writing to people living in what is today northern Turkey who were suffering from various kinds of persecution. The persecution and suffering happened because of their commitment to Christ and the difference that commitment had made in their lives. Peter urges them to continue to live their lives in full integrity, trusting God in the struggle. He also tells them to be ready to give a reason for their hope in Christ. In other words, be ready to tell their story.
Stories of Trust
Sunday we will be specifically looking at the stories of how we came to trust Christ in our life and so to help us tell those stories the Christian to the Core helps us shape those stories to be as clear as possible.
First, we help people understand what our lives were like without Christ. Our story could start with emptiness, guilt or selfishness. Be honest about your life at that point. Second, we need to tell how we came to Christ. Try not to use religious language, sometimes that just confuses people and creates a barrier to understanding. Then tell people what your life is like with Christ; how Jesus has helped you overcome the issues of your past. Then give people a clear and straightforward invitation follow Jesus for themselves.
I hope you will take the time to work through this section in the workbook and be willing to share your story when your group meets this week. Your story is powerful! Remember this passage from Revelation:
But they have conquered him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. -Revelation 12:11
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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.