The stories we tell ourselves shape us in big ways:
I am ugly. No one loves me. I have been mistreated. I deserve what was given to another.
There are countless little stories we tell ourselves. These little stories usually happen in our head after an unfortunate event has taken place. Your coworker is promoted and you aren’t. Than on the ride home after work you play back all the reasons why this happened. Usually all the versions we tell ourselves (or our “self speak”) are tainted just enough to make us the innocent victim and treated unfairly. We tell ourselves we are the victim of bad genetics, bad parents, or societal and social preferences that don’t lean in our favor. All the people around us are racist, ageist, misogynist, or only care about a degree. We are the victim. Even if these perceptions are true, a continual obsession over them can lead good hearts to very dark places. Learning to handle these appropriately is very important. However, there is an even darker place on this pity journey our hearts can step towards, one that can lead to full desperation, and this is what I want to focus on.
The story we are told we fit into is shaping us in even bigger ways:
This is the societal “story” that we adopt. It doesn’t pop into our minds nearly as often but it shapes us in profound ways. The modern meta story that secular culture teaches our children is that we have no purposeful origin and that we are all products of random chance. Culture says that we as humans are not here because we were intentionally made. We are told all that is real is in this material world. There is no after life or spirituality. When you die it’s all over. All the good that you can experience is a roll of the die in this short little life of yours. Even the wealthiest and most powerful still lose everything. Since we are taught that every joy can only be experienced here in this brief life many of us feel in deep want with no real way to find wholeness. So people do desperate things to at least be heard. Watch the news. You see “I hurt! Hear me!” in story after story. In this “modern” meta-narrative we find ourselves deeply depressed. If all we have is evolution it couldn’t have been more cruel. We have grown hungers for things that aren’t real. People want to live forever in a place of peace and relational harmony. We want to experience true justice. We desire a real purpose that actually matters. Almost all of us want a better story than the “real” one we have been peddled in school. So we find humans immersed in entertainment. Little distractions from reality. We love to be temporarily swoon by another meta narrative. We are moved deeply by powerful stories of deeper purpose and beautiful love. Than, we are rudely woken up again and again by the drum beat of modern education saying, “You are chance, random, and temporary. You are chance, random, and temporary. You are chance, random, and temporary…” When the drum beats so loud not even entertainment can drown it out we medicate to dull our senses.
I see modernity as it is… Modernity is not a rescue for humanity it is a rat trap. It looks and smells good. It promises freedom from “old” rules but chains us to something much more cruel… meaninglessness.
Here we find ourselves ironically close in desperation to our brothers and sisters in Ancient Rome. Many Roman leaders believed that rightly operated societies and systems would solve humanities ailments. Roman expansion conquered to make all civil. Yet, in the wake of social systems in the Roman Republic (which means “public good”) we find regular people desperate and lost. Even powerful leaders who thrived off of these systems found themselves without a real compass for their heart. Pilate’s famous line says it all in John 18:38. “What is truth?” Jesus than shows up on the scene with a new story. A truer story. A story we need trumpeted again today. You have purpose, you have origin and destination. Your greatest joys and most fulfilling purpose is still yet to come. What is material is not what is most real. Your hunger for what this world can’t offer is only evidence that you were made for another “world.” You feel lost because you are. You are not home. Deep inside we dream of an Eden we long for a Heaven. Every romantic story roars of our deeper and realer hungers. Christ says wake them up! Make them so awake that only a love so perfect and good as His can fulfill it. If you were to say that Christians are hopeless romantics lost in another story I would say a resounding “yes!” And it is a gloriously better story than the one Ancient Rome and Modernity has forced upon us. If it is wholeness, purpose and peace you are after than listen to Christ’s meta-narrative. In John 14:1-14 the hope of heaven hangs like the sweet aroma of freshly baked bread at grandmas house after a long ride in the car to visit her for the holidays. It is oh so good and gloriously better than the state you were in.
Real Christians have found something so immeasurably good. A better meta-narrative. If you are mistreated at work, of a people group that wrongly has misfortune set upon you, possess bad genetics, or grew up in a terrible home we believe your best story hasn’t even begun. As a Christian those awful things become weak and feeble at the foot of the cross. Your best days, our best days are still before us. I have hope and that hope is so incredibly powerful!
This is not the end.