The disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you tell stories?” He answered, “I tell stories to create
readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.” (Matt. 13)
As disciples of Jesus, by definition, we do what our Master
did. If he was a story-teller, then we should
be, too. He hard-wired humans to share
and listen to stories.
If you’ve ever
been a parent, what do your children love before going to bed? A story!
We can make Christianity a stale and technical thing,
sharing tracts with strangers and bulletins with church-goers. Of course it’s the best of all stories, one where the hero saves the day.
I like what my friend Flaps Van der Merwe said about how Jesus draws us into his story, “As a screenwriter I can tell you that any story needs supporting
characters with their own sub-plot and own stories to add value to the
hero’s story. A story with just one character is totally useless. The
more intricate and the more involved characters are with each other,
the more they add value to each other’s stories.”
When pieces of paper begin to substitute for
good stories, we are missing the plot.
If God hard-wired people to share stories, shouldn’t we take advantage
of the fact as we share the good news we’ve discovered?
People’s stories are just below the surface, waiting to
bubble up if we have the patience to listen.
And the other thing God has built into people is a sense
of reciprocity. Listen to their story,
and they’ll want to hear yours. Instead of feeling obligated to recite a set of
facts about Jesus, we need to change our paradigm of evangelism to one of
sharing stories. As we do so, we’ll
create a readiness in listeners, nudging them toward receptive insight.