We live in a world where there are many stories—many ways that people interpret and therefore see the world. For example, just go back to the twentieth century and think about the stories that dominated
• Hitler created the story of Fascism and set out to rule the world through the Aryan race.
• Marx created the story of Communism and set out to rule the world.
• The Secularists created the story that there is no God and that we humans, left on our own in a cold and indifferent world, must learn to make our own way.
• Then came the new religions from the East. They said God is the world and the world is God. So they sought to narrate the world through a resurrected pantheism.
In the meantime, Christianity became increasingly privatistic. We stopped thinking about the story of God. The Christian convictions of Creation, Incarnation, death, Resurrection, and the return of Christ to establish a new heaven and new earth where Jesus is Lord over all creation as the story of the world was neglected. In place of the whole story we concentrated on this piece or that piece of the story. So the story of God as the interpretation of the world from its beginning to its ending simply fell into disuse.
Instead of focusing on God and God’s story, we followed the emphasis of the narcissistic culture and became interested in self. This concern for self was translated into the Christian faith, and into worship and preaching in particular.
For many the issue became “how can God help me?” How can God make my life better? How can I be filled with joy? How can I recover from a divorce? How can I get my life together and be productive? There is nothing wrong with these questions. People have to deal with these issues. However, the primacy given to these questions in recent years is narcissistic and not really what God’s good news is really about.
The good news is that God the creator has a plan for his universe. That plan has been revealed in Jesus Christ, whose incarnation, death and resurrection, and coming again constitute not only God’s story, but in reality the story of the world.
Now, here we are in the twenth-first century. We battle with contending stories of the world. Communism is still a way to view the world. Atheism lurks in the corner. Eastern religions are still attracting many people. And now the terrorists are saying, “We will take over the world and bring you all under Shira Law. You will become enslaved by our laws, and we will terrorize you until you succumb.”
In the meantime, the world is up in flames, so to speak. Europe is under attack. Africa is in a tailspin with Aids, poverty, and genocide. In a world that is disintegrating, somebody is going to narrate the world. Christians can’t narrate the world with a privatistic, narcissistic religion. So Christians must once again become united, not in whining about their pain and brokenness, but in a hope for the future because they are recovering God’s story.
In worship we reenact and proclaim that story. We tell and enact the meaning of the world because we proclaim the truth of the world.
The truth is, God created everything.
The truth is, we fell away from God through the sin of rebellion.
The truth is that God has become involved in the history of the world to rescue the world and restore it.
The truth is that God has rescued the world from the inside. He became one of us in the Incarnation. He died for us as our sacrifice, saving us from sin. In his resurrection, he destroyed death and began a new creation. He is Lord over all creation, and at the end of history he will destroy the presence of evil in this world and reign forever in the new heavens and the new earth.
When we worship together we are recovering God’s story. This story is much bigger than our individual lives. It is more than a narcissistic preoccupation with self. It is all about God who in Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit has won back the world for God. When we worship we reenact and proclaim God’s story to the eternal praise of God.
True worship puts you into God’s story. It changes your life because it puts your day-by-day experience of life—the disappointments and the things that make you soar—into the perspective of God’s story. It reminds you of the true story of the meaning of the world and puts into perspective the place your life has in the grand story.
Find your place in God’s story of the world which worship proclaims, and learn to interpret the struggles of your life within the big picture of God’s story.