On Easter Sunday night, my family and I attended the service at my brother’s church where he serves on staff. After a few minutes of worship, the lights dimmed and the video screens behind the stage in front were illuminated and the picture of a middle-aged man on a stool came into focus. For the next few minutes the man on the stool told the story of how he was born again.
We watched as the tears welled up in his eyes when he talked about grace and forgiveness. We listened as the words caught in his throat as he was without the ability to fully describe what Jesus had done for him. We laughed with joy through our tears when he threw his arms up in the air and shouted in praise for what Christ had done in his life. By the end of the story we knew him a little better and we knew our God better too.
In the first chapter of Galatians, Paul talks about spending fifteen days with the apostle Peter, “getting acquainted.” The Scripture doesn’t tell us what this looked like, but for some reason I picture the two men sitting in a courtyard somewhere telling their stories.
Peter talks about the time he was walking on water and lost sight of Jesus and began to sink. Paul shares his experience of being present at the stoning of Stephen and being amazed at the manner in which he died. Peter then shares the time he denied Christ three times on the night He was crucified, only to be forgiven by the risen Christ later. Paul then regales Peter with his tale of encountering Christ in a blinding light and a voice from heaven as he traveled the road to Damascus to imprison the followers of the way.
Now, I’ve never walked on water, or seen Jesus in a blinding light, or even heard a voice from heaven, but as a follower of Christ, I do have stories to tell of how I came to Christ and all the ways I have walked with Him in my journey through this life and so do you.
These are stories that need to be told. And they need to be told again and again.
When I hear the story of how Christ saved you, I’m encouraged in my own faith. I’m inspired to glorify God and I become closer to you than I was before. Jesus is the common bond we all share with one another, and He should be the center of our interactions with one another as well.
As I think about the people I’m “doing life with” at church I’m amazed, and even ashamed, of how few of your stories I know. I can think back on countless dinners and coffees and chats, and I hate that I cannot say my first question was; “Tell me about how Christ saved you.”
I’ve asked about favorite movies, books, bands, and vacation spots. I’ve asked about education, vocation, and even political affiliations. But very few times have I asked people to tell me about how Christ saved them.
Why is that? What greater story is there to tell? What better way to know another follower of Jesus than to hear them tell that story and to rejoice with them in the telling of it.
Perhaps there will come a time when we’ll ask someone to tell their story and they’ll find they have no story to tell. What should we do then?
We simply recognize what a glorious opportunity we’ve been given to share the love of Christ with them. We have a chance to become a part of their salvation story.
How many salvation stories are you a part of now? Too few in my case, far too few.
The next time you are at lunch, or dinner, or just having coffee with someone you know professes to be a follower of Jesus, look at them in the eye, smile, and in a gentle voice say; “Will you tell me the story of how Jesus saved you?”
Believe me, no matter who they are, it’s a story they need to tell, and it’s a story that you need to hear.