From the moment we are born, the story over our lives begins and university is a particularly special chapter of our book. We begin to independently make our own choices, perhaps for the first time. We continue the journey in deciding what kind of person we want to be. The questions we always need to be asking ourselves are: who is actually holding the pen over our pages? What story are we a part of? What kind of story do we want to leave behind?
“They triumphed over him [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
– Revelation 12:11
The world already has a story that it wants to write over us. Depending on what country we live in, what universities we go to, what course or career path we choose, we are assigned a narrative. Society tells us who the “goodies” and “baddies” should be and what happily ever after should look like. Our salaries, successes and significance are picked for us.
However, before time even existed God was writing another story. A story that was written down and passed on from generation to generation, through the word of their testimony. A story that sustained the hope of the Jewish people in the coming Messiah for centuries. A story that was authored by a God who loves so unconditionally that He sent His Son, the Word, to become flesh. This magnificent story is still being written today, and it includes each one of us, front and centre.
As soon as I chose my university course, the world’s typewriter over me began clacking away. The narrative I was assigned went something like this: studying public policy meant I could be a government official, lawyer or consultant. I could choose to work for the “goodies” and be poor but feel good about myself and the difference I was making. Or I could choose to work for the “baddies” and make lots of money but compromise my integrity somewhere along the way. Sound familiar?
It seemed as though each piece of the track on the railroad of my life had already been laid out before me. That was until I did the most dangerous thing I could do, I said yes to following Jesus. Unequivocally, unapologetically and unswervingly, I said yes. Since then I have derailed my life in the most beautiful way possible. My story took an unexpected and unusual turn towards adventure. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about millennials, is that we are no longer bound by one singular path to success, despite the world’s best efforts to try and convince us otherwise. We are likely to change career paths several times or even have multiple careers at once. Our stories are largely unconventional. So why wouldn’t it be the same in our walk with God? God is inviting us to partake in the greatest adventure story of all time, the story of a love that stops at nothing to be revealed.
Jesus was the epitome of unconventional. The King above all kings, born in a manger. The Messiah coming to save the world, not with an army but on the back of a donkey. The Prince of Peace, announcing the coming of the Kingdom that was upside down where the last would be first and the least would be the greatest. The Anointed One who was without sin who sat and ate with sinners. He reflected the unconventional nature of God, who used a stuttering Moses to lead a nation out of slavery and destroyed the walls of Jericho with the faithful march and shout of His people.
God is the author and perfecter of our faith, and our inheritance as sons and daughters is that we actually become co-authors in the story over our lives and the lives of those around us. We become co-labourers with Christ in His Kingdom. Every choice we make becomes a letter, in a word, on a page of the story. Our yes matters. Our choices matter. Who we are becoming matters.
So what would it look like for you to challenge the conventions of your sphere of influence? What would it look like for you to pioneer an unprecedented way of doing things in your course, with your neighbour, with those who persecute you? Perhaps it would look a little bit like Arthur Guinness changing the landscape of a city, or Desmond Tutu helping to usher a nation into democracy through forgiveness, or even the Cadbury family growing their business and product with a commitment to improve people’s lives.
As ambassadors, we aren’t writing this unconventional story simply for the sake of being different. We walk the narrow path because our hearts have been so captured by the Unconventional One that we will follow Him wherever He calls. We know that God’s plan for the world is us, His children, boldly stepping out to see His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We understand our identity as sons and daughters so we go about our Father’s business as Jesus did. While God writes His story over us, in His upside down Kingdom, we also become His writing utensil. Like Mother Teresa, we say yes to being pencils in the hands of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.
“The gospel is a very dangerous idea. We have to see how much of that dangerous idea we can perform in our own lives. There is nothing innocuous or safe about the gospel. Jesus did not get crucified because he was a nice man.”
– Walter Brueggemann
Lizete is the leader of the Manchester Hub, who have their first gathering this Wednesday – 7pm at The Anchor Coffee House.