What was Your Favorite Story? Do you remember the stories you were drawn to as a kid?
Stories of heroes and villains, friendships, the power of community, and overcoming difficulties and challenges. There is no denying the allure of stories. They have such an ability to draw us together collectively. Teaching us something about the subject, the situation and even ourselves.
In the context of small groups, storytelling is the personal narration of our life experiences. It is something, I believe, that is part of the very fabric of who we are as image-bearers of God.
The Master Storyteller
Stories played such an incredible role in the life and ministry of Jesus. So often, we find a crowd of people gathered around him, leaning in and listening intently to him. Stories about a lamp (Matthew 5:14-16), a Sower (Matthew 13:1-23), or the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21).
These stories are known to us as parables and were used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus was a master storyteller. His ability to take profound spiritual truths and package them in the form of relatable stories was incredible.
Did you know he also told others to go and tell their own stories?
Mission and Story
Right after the whole event on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus calmed the storm, he and his disciples encountered a man “…in the Gerasene Country opposite Galilee, [who was] full of demonic spirits” (Luke 8:26-39). We don’t know much about this man. But we do come face-to-face with his reality. He had often been tied up, chained, and kept under guard, but each time he broke free. The demonic power would then drive him into remote places away from human contact. He was imprisoned by evil – broken, needy, and isolated.
His story was tragic.
Until that is, he encountered Jesus and his life was irreversibly transformed. And where do we find him after this interaction with Jesus? Sitting at his feet in the posture of a disciple. He had finally found true freedom and peace in the presence of Jesus.
When it was time for Jesus to leave he begs to go with them. You can almost hear the desperation in his voice, “I can’t stay here. I must come with you. You saved me. Let me follow you.” But it is Jesus’ response to this request that I want you to notice:
No. Go home. Tell your people this unique story about how much God has done for you. (Luke 8:39)
Jesus tells the man his new mission is to go and tell his story. A story that was full of brokenness, wandering and desperation. But also one filled with hope, redemption, and freedom. I believe Jesus did so because he understood the power that sharing our stories has on us and the listeners’ lives.