True Narratives Smashing Distorted Concepts
“God is Generous”
The process of spiritual transformation in Christ is one of progressively replacing…destructive images & ideas with the images & ideas that filled the mind of Jesus Himself…Spiritual formation in Christ moves toward a total interchange of our ideas & images for His.” ~Dallas Willard
“Little Lady Prophet” street preacher who would yell of God’s wrath only at everyone within ear shot. The clear narrative is that God is mad at you. There was no mention of God’s love, grace, or even Jesus’ name.
False narrative: Earning favor
Love & forgiveness are commodities that are exchanged for performance. God’s love, acceptance, forgiveness must be merited by right living. What God most wants is for us not to sin & instead to do good. Obviously, a half-truth. He desires that we don’t sin, yes, but more so to know Him & love Him (then we sin less).
Cultural narrative of earning
Earning is the means by which we obtain things. When every person in every situation in every day of our lives treats us on the basis of how we look, act, & perform, it is difficult not to project that on to God. [Ps. 50:21]
How does our culture support the narrative of earning?
Have you felt this pressure?
Guilt, fear, shame, & hunger for acceptance become the primary motivators in our performance-based culture.
The (misunderstood) biblical narrative of earning
Israel-exile, yes for their habitual disobedience, but the larger narrative is that they were chosen by Yahweh to be His people…just because!
David- baby died seemingly because he was born out of adultery, but the larger narrative is that he was not killed & also had Solomon from the same woman & he grew to be rich, powerful, & wise.
To say that sin has consequences is much different than saying that because of our sin God rejects us.
The larger narrative is Yahweh’s “steadfast love” (hesed). The dominant narrative of the Bible is one of unearned grace (you are special because of who you are), of a God whose love is not thwarted by human sinfulness, & of a Christ who dies for sinners [Rom. 5:8]. The minor narratives are a part of the ambiguity of all epic stories.
The metanarrative of the Bible is the story of the steadfast love of God that culminates in the incarnation, death, & resurrection of God on behalf of a wayward world.
Therefore, we should interpret the entire Bible and each of its parts in light of Jesus.
Every story gets absorbed into the story of Jesus.
The false narratives we hear from the church
God is good. You are bad. Try harder.
Ex. of misinterpretation of Hebrews 6:6
If you fell more deeply in love with God, how might that change your behavior?
Jesus’ narrative: The generous God
Imagine you know nothing about God & you hear Jesus tell this story in Mt.20:1-15.
It is a parable of generosity. The world of merit vs. the world of grace..
“Are you envious because I’m so generous?”
Jesus reveals a God who does not demand, but who gives; who does not oppress but who raises up; who does not wound but who heals; who does not condemn but forgives. ~Brennan Manning
God is so wealthy that His chief delight is to give.
Do you agree that God is generous? & gives to us freely? Why or why not?
Generosity & scarcity
Generosity happens when you live in abundance and/or compassion. God is limitless in both areas. Love, forgiveness,acceptance, kindness are not in limited supply. So why do we hold back? Because we live in scarcity! We feel we must protect what we have. We never got enough growing up (or so we may feel).
Yahweh is constantly generous. What else do we really need? You deserve nothing you have- creation, air, sun.
What are some ways you have experienced the unearned blessing of God?
We have His love, food, clothes, shelter. What else do you need?
What were we created for? Matanoia. John the Baptist. Prepare the way.
So whenever we are unhappy while having all these things, it is out of complete selfishness.
What the God of Jesus really wants
What does God want from me? Jesus would answer, “To know Him & to love Him.”
Do you see how much sense this makes? Greatest commandment reminder.
Not doing anything, but loving Him. You’ll then do automatically, but sin does damage relationship.
It is a grief to the heart of God when we try to provide things for Him…It is a grief to Him, too, when we try to do things for Him, for He is so very, very able. He longs that we will just let Him do & do & do. ~Watchman Nee
Westminster Larger Catechism of 1648
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.
Do you think God wants you to enjoy Him?
Do you think we will have to give account for all the blessings we took for granted & did not enjoy?
The greatest honor we can give to God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love. What God most wants is to see you smile because you know how much God loves you. ~Julian of Norwich
How does it feel to know God delights in you? Why?
Have you ever tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his fear prevents him trusting himself to you. When that is so, there are just two ways of going about it. Either you must knock him unconscious & then drag him to the shore, or else you must leave him to struggle & shout until his strength gives way before you go to his rescue. If you try to save him while he has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror & drag you under, & both he & you will be lost. God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before He can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, He will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair. ~Watchman Nee
A God I have to do things for is difficult to love.
A God who delights in me I can’t help but love.
The God who delights in you
What if God is not mad at you?
What if He delights in you despite how you look, feel, what you do or don’t do? The only possible response is absolute delight in return. [I John 4:10-11] Our love for God does not determine God’s attitude toward us. While we were scum, He sent His son to reconcile us to Himself so we could be in union. The primary thing God wants from us is not improved moral behavior (which will come), but to love God because He first loves us.
The most important thing about you
What comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you…Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question , ‘What comes into your mind when you think of God?’ we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. ~A.W. Tozer
Our thoughts about God will determine how we live.
What we think God is like will determine the relationship we have with Him.
We see what we are ready to see, expect to see, and even desire to see. If you examine the accounts of peoples’ great moments of breakthroughs, they usually are not referring to what they see as much as how they see.
How do your beliefs about God explain how you live your life?
If we have low or false views of God, we are actually committing a form of idolatry, worshipping a false god.
As you get to know the God that Jesus revealed, you will fall more & more in love with Him. How could you not??? He’s perfect in every good way and is out for your good.
Why would you stay away from that? Why would you not spend time with that?