Entering The Great Story
Following Jesus is so much more than a trip to heaven when you die.
Following Jesus means that God Himself—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—invites you to enter into the Great Story. The Great Story is a story about God’s great love for His most prized possession—humanity. God’s divine drama began with His first creation, Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26). God’s image-bearers were created out of His unceasing love so they could love Him, love each other, and care for creation. Here, at Transformation Church, we call this “Upward, Inward, Outward”; they loved God, themselves, and each other.
The Great Tragedy
Adam and Eve were God’s first community and representatives to all of earth. Just as God ruled heaven, they were to rule earth with God’s peace (shalom). He placed the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden. The Tree of Life represents a face-to-face, life-giving relationship with God. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents humanity living life independently and in rebellion against their Maker. Why would God put these trees in the Garden? Just as we want our children to choose to love us, God desires that His children choose to love Him.
Great tragedy entered the peaceful Garden when Satan, a beautiful angel, become an enemy of God and God’s image-bearers. He was hell-bent on spreading evil, rebellion, and death. Through his craftiness, he deceived our willing parents to doubt God’s goodness and to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). When Adam and Eve rebelled and rejected God’s love, humanity downloaded the virus called sin (Ephesians 2:1-4). They no longer had the capacity to live Upward, Inward, Outward because they were separated from God, the very source of life and love.
The Great Story now has a great conflict. This tragedy is so epic that even creation is damaged (Romans 8:21-26). Theologians call this tragic event “The Fall.”
But God, being the loving Papa that He is, came to rescue His children, creation, and reestablish His shalom on earth.
God On A Mission
God is the first missionary.
God’s mission began with a man named Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), and through him, the tiny nation of Israel was birthed. Israel was God’s chosen people, a kingdom of priests, His prized possession (Exodus 19:1-6). The people of Israel received God’s blessing so that they could be a blessing to the nations who didn’t know the One True God (Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:7-8, Acts 13:17). The nation of Israel was God’s missionary community whose vocation was to be light to the world so the nations could experience life, love, and community with God (Isaiah 49:6).
God set Israel apart from other nations through the way He guided and empowered His missionary community to live. He also gave Israel a sacrificial system to follow so that their sins could be forgiven. This sacrificial system was only temporary because one day the Messiah (Anointed One), the sinless Lamb of God, would come to earth, die on a cross in place of humanity, and rise from the dead three days after His death.
What Does It Mean To Follow Jesus?
So what does it mean to follow Jesus? It means that you enter The Great Story by coming to grips with the reality that when Jesus died brutally on the cross, He was dying for your sins. His motivation was LOVE. Following Jesus means that you come to grips with the reality that when Jesus rose from the dead, He gives you His very Life through the Holy Spirit so you can become a part of His mission called the Church. Just as Israel was to be the light of the world, the Church is now on mission to be light to the world by offering the world forgiveness of sins, new life in Christ, and shalom to the world.
Through trusting Jesus as God and Savior, you can be empowered by God’s Spirit to live an Upward, Inward, Outward life; the Bible calls this an “eternal-kind-of-life” (John 17:3; John 3:16). The eternal God now eternally lives in you! Jesus articulated what an Upward, Inward, Outward relationship is when he said in Mark 12:29-31, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Have you trusted Jesus to be your God and Savior?
God’s gift to us is free. We can’t earn it by being good. We receive this gift because God is good.
If you’d like to trust Jesus, tell Him: “Jesus, in this moment, I embrace You as the One who died for my sins on the cross. I embrace that You rose from the dead on the third day after your brutal death. I believe that you are the Son of God. Thank you for giving me forgiveness and a new life in You. Amen.”
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