Working through Isaiah for our current Sunday morning series is a challenge! It seems a bit of an understatement to say it's a big book and doing it justice in a comparatively short period of time is a tough ask, but it's a good challenge.
Anyway, some of the things I've been reading and thinking about fitted quite interestingly with a discussion we had at our monthly Baptist Ministers' lunch. We got talking about the general level of illiteracy about the Christian narrative in our society and what we could or should be doing about it. As I thought about it, it struck me that as evangelicals in particular, we have become somewhat fixed on telling the whole story at every opportunity. But typically we don't actually tell the whole story, we just tell the bit about atonement and repentance and sin and grace. Now that's not a bad story to tell, but if the world around us doesn't share our frame of reference, they have no context in which to understand our story of redemption.
Perhaps, I suggested in our meeting, we need to retell the stories in order to provide that framework.
I then got thinking about Isaiah and the topic for Sunday and the chapters I'd been reading and studying this morning. As the prophetic narrative moves from chapter 7 through chapter 8 and into chapter 9 there seems to be a very simple question being posed to the listener: Which story will you choose to live by? Will it be the darkness and gloom of the Assyrian invasion, or will it be the light and deliverance of God's new king and new kingdom?
While this story is most definitely a story of redemption, it is also a story about hope. And who doesn't need a story of hope. Could these be the stories we need to be telling, stories of hope, stories of peace storied of reconciliation. And as we tell them, to frame them in the wider, bigger story of God's redemptive work done on our behalf.
I'm not sure how we do this, but I think it is something that we need to take a good look at and ask ourselves what the stories are that we tell the world around us. I fear we might find out that we're actually telling the world how doomed it is and how dreadful it is and how dark it is rather than telling it how loved it is and how available light is to it.
Perhaps, as someone else pointed out, too few of us actually know what our hope is, and therefore cannot tell the story.
It was a great discussion and reminded me about the things I still miss from college life 20 years on from completing my MA.