Getting beyond sensation in a story-saturated world.
As Christians, we should approach the story of the Gospel with the kind of veracity and conviction as Indiana Jones—excavating, teaching and fighting to preserve the greatest narrative ever spoken into human history. Stories, after all, have the ability to connect humans to the truth about the world, God and ourselves in ways that our imagination alone can limit.
The consequence of any good story, however, is that in many ways, it’s never enough. It always leaves us hungry for more. After the ascension, there’s the hope of a return. After the credits roll, we wonder if there will be a sequel.
Never has this been more true than today. Think about it. When was the last time you thought about Susan Boyle? Kanye’s interruption of Taylor Swift? Charlie Sheen’s “winning” rampage? Anthony Weiner’s Twitter fetish? The assassination of Osama Bin Laden?
Our culture devours stories faster than we can dish them out, to the point where yesterday’s sensations are today’s forgotten nobodies.
This is, in part, due to the influx of technology—tools designed to put us all in the driver’s seat, allowing us to play producer, director, performer and promoter all at once. Feed-driven social networks like Facebook and Instagram are designed to help us remember, implant and pronounce our story somewhere it will remain forever.
The problem surfaces, however, when our story gets pushed down in a feed that is constantly piling up with other stories and other memories, to the point where we become nostalgic about the moment we just captured seconds after it has passed.
Our culture’s fight is a fight to remain at the top of the feed. And it’s futile.
While it’s never been easier to become a leading character in this moment, it’s never been harder to reinvent oneself after the next moment comes sweeping in. As a result, we find ourselves trapped in a cultural ecosystem that is constantly disappointed and overwhelmed by stories that are momentary. This phenomenon is bigger than the way we interact with celebrities and social media; it spills over into every facet of our lives. From the way we view marriage, politics, church and more, we’ve become accustomed to stories and promises that are simply too good to last.
Outside our front door lies a sea of empty self-written stories and crumpled-up edits searching for a permanent author. How, then, do we share the greatest narrative to a narrative-numb culture?
It’s clear that now, more than ever, humans find themselves in dire need for the sustainable beyond the sensational. Telling the story of the Gospel is elemental, but it’s not enough. The equation is incomplete unless we spend ample time excavating the enduring truth it leads to. This is not to say that every recounting of the story should follow with a rousing apologetic debate. It is to say that the fundamental, most convincing apologetic for the 21st century is, in fact, life change.
People need to know that our story is true, unfailing and permanent, that our villain doesn’t triumph in the end, that our fight isn’t to remain on top of the feed but to report to the world that the feed no longer matters!
The Gospel narrative should act as a springboard to the ongoing tangible freedom it brings: a dynamic lifestyle beyond the monotony of producing and consuming, an alternative that distracts us from every mundane and momentary distraction eroding our souls.
People don’t want to read a screenplay. They want to watch the movie. And the Gospel looks best when it’s seen in 3-D.