One of the most memorable moments in my college experience was student week of prayer. It was that time of year when students would boldly share their life stories to the university community in hopes of inspiring others into a personal encounter with Jesus. Each night the student speakers were encouraged to make an altar call of sorts after their talk. Furthermore, to many of them, speaking in front of an audience was something new. As an associate pastor in the campus church I’m responsible of ensuring that the worship experience for that week runs smoothly.
I recall one particular night when one of our speakers made his altar call. He was quite nervous throughout his whole talk and now as he began to challenge the student body to make a decision I remember feeling embarrassed for him. He wasn’t a theology student nor the “ideal” public speaker. In fact, at least in my perspective, his altar call was so unorthodox that it would have probably made any homiletics professor cringe in their seat. However, his brief and humble appeal resulted in a large group of students responding to the challenge of encountering God for themselves.
So what was the power behind his appeal? I believe the power lays in stories. He didn’t preach this eloquent homily that showcased his deep understanding of theology, philosophy, and life. All he presented was his encounter with a God who loved him deeply. It was a story that connected faith to everyday life. Here are three reasons why I believe stories matter and why you shouldn’t be embarrassed about yours:
Your story is evidence. I believe that the best argument in favor of God’s transformative power is a personal encounter with Him. Acts 4 narrates the story of Peter and John speaking to the Sanhedrin after they had healed a lame man. Upon hearing and seeing these men, they (the Sanhedrin) knew that they were followers of Jesus (v.13). However, what’s interesting is what the following verse tells us. “And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.” The Pharisees and Sadducees were scholars of the Scriptures and seemed to always have a response. How then could they be silenced by this man? My pastor once told me that, “People can argue theory but you can never argue results.” This man spoke no words and shared no sermon. All he did was stand with legs that were once crippled. Your story is proof of God’s unfailing love and is powerful enough to silence the strongest of objectors.
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Your story is power. Believers in the book of Revelation are described as overcomers in one of the coolest ways possible: “They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11). Your life story fused with the meta-narrative of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has the power to make the enemy run like a dog with his between his legs. Why? Because a transformed life is rebellion against the reality Satan has brought to this world. That’s true power.
Your story is gospel. I’ve often heard Matthew 24:14 quoted in many churches around the country as a call to preach the gospel. We often believe that the preaching of the Word is synonymous with the conversion of the lost. While preaching has its place in our mission, it is not what Jesus specifically has in mind with this saying. A closer look at this text reveals the key ingredient to effective evangelism: the gospel will be preached “as a testimony, and then the end will come.” Your life story is better than any sermon preached by anyone (except Jesus of course). It’s no wonder why Paul tells the Corinthians that their lives “are a letter written from Christ” (2 Cor. 3:3). When people want to know if Christ is truly real they often will look at His follower; Christians. What better way to inspire them than to narrate the gospel through your life! Your story might have really embarrassing, shameful, and scary chapters in it. However, I believe that it might just be the key that could unlock the prison that others are living in. Your story matters, to God and to someone else, so don’t be afraid to share it.
So, what’s your story?