The first words of our Story go like this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” (Gen. 1:1) First, the Story starts with God. God is the very first piece of the Christian Story. He is the central character. The Story is about Him. Second, everything belongs to God because He made everything. Including you. God created everything out of nothing. If God can create the entire universe with a single word, chances are He could change water into wine, if He wanted to. He can heal sick people. He can raise a person from the dead. Third, the Story has a theme. Ever wonder what the main theme of the Bible is? It’s right there in the first line. The Story starts with a king who creates a domain He rules over. The idea that God owns everything and has proper authority over everything He made is the main point. The Story is about God’s sovereign rule over everything that belongs to Him. Fourth, notice that God is distinct from the rest of creation. Nature is not God. Rather, God made nature. Everything was exactly the way God’s noble mind intended. Which is just another way of saying: “Everything God made was good.”
The Story of Reality
Making sense of the two biggest issues of Christianity are the two major obstacles to people taking our case seriously. First, if God exists then why is there evil in the world? How could God allow people to be so wicked to each another? How could God allow natural disasters? And from Christians, how could God allow this to happen to me? Wasn’t God going to protect me? Second, why is Jesus the only solution? After all, wasn’t the main point of Jesus’ life to help the poor and advance social justice? To guide us in love, respect, and tolerance? Teach us how to get along? No, those are not the reasons He came. What is Christianity? Some think Christianity is a religious system. Christianity is a guide for living a fulfilling life. Christianity is a roadmap to Heaven. Others think it is a relationship with God, or with Jesus. These are all true enough, but they’re not enough. The answer to the question “What is Christianity?” turns out to be much bigger than those things. The correct answer to the question “What is Christianity?” is this: Christianity is a picture of reality. It’s an account, or a description, or a depiction, of the way things actually are. It’s a view of how the world is. It’s a worldview. It’s a picture, though, that’s made up of pieces that must be fit together properly to see it clearly. In that sense, a worldview is like a puzzle. The pieces fit neatly together into one coherent picture that represents reality—the way the world actually is. Of course, to get the picture right, you have to work with the right pieces. Once you have all the right pieces, then you have to fit the pieces together properly. So how do we put the pieces of our puzzle together properly? You look at the puzzle’s cover—the big picture of the Christian worldview—so you never get lost in the details again. A worldview is like a story. When you think about it, every story (if it is a good one) has four parts: beginning, conflict, conflict resolution, and an ending, a restoration. The Christian Story is different from other stories in a significant way. This Story is not meant to be understood as a fairy tale or a myth. The Christian Story is a true Story of reality. When I say this Story is a true Story, I am using the word “true” in its ordinary sense. I don’t mean “true for me.” I mean “true to reality.” The things the Story describes actually exist and the events in the Story really happened. It’s history. The backbone of the Christian Story consists of five words: God Man Jesus Cross Resurrection (here I mean the final resurrection). This is both the plotline and the timeline.
In one respect, man is not like any other created thing. He has a rational soul or spirit that bears the image of God Himself. In an absolutely unique way, man is wonderful. The image of God in man gives man transcendent value. This likeness between man and God makes it possible for man to have a unique friendship with God. The Fall Man was capable of living in harmony with God, under His rulership in His kingdom, but he could also betray the friendship. He could rebel. Man is still beautiful, but…now there is a huge problem. Man is desperately fallen. He’s in active rebellion. As a result, man is spiritually dead, enslaved to two new masters: Satan and his own twisted, corrupted nature. The King is angry. How would you feel if you made everything perfect and your creatures rebelled and corrupted your creation? This is why there is evil in the world. Man’s rebellion didn’t just affect him; it affected everything. Bad things happen in a world that is broken. Two things are important to know about evil. One, evil is a part of our Story, but evil is an intruder, an aberration. Two, the Story is not over yet. With man lost and helpless, God Himself steps into the picture in a very unique way to initiate a rescue operation.
Jesus was a real human being. He had true human nature. Jesus had a body of flesh and blood. Jesus was a man, but He was not just a man. Jesus was also fully God. Our Story begins: “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Jesus’ Story begins: “In the beginning was the Word…All things came into being through Him, and apart from him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). "...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). In other words, Jesus was the same God who started it all. Why did Jesus come? What did He come to do? Matt 1:21: God to Joseph in a dream: “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus [“Yehoshua,” Joshua, savior, “The Lord is deliverer”], and He will save His people from their sins.” In Jesus’ own words, Lk. 6:31-32: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matt. 20:28: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” John 3:17: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." What was Jesus rescuing us from? Jesus rescued us from the Father. “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). How did Jesus rescue us? What did He do? First, He lived the life we should have lived. Second, He made a trade, His life for ours (“Take me instead”).