Story keepers (part 2)
Memoirs of a First Century Story-keeper
Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. So I made a careful study of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place. Honorable Theophilus, I have done this to let you know the truth about what you have heard. (Luke 1:1-4 CEV)
Firstly, there was a willingness to step out of his comfort zone. Luke was a physician by profession and yet was willing to venture into Philosophy, Theology, Religion and Literature. Contemporary Christian story tellers/keepers have much to learn from Luke. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zones and venture out into various academic disciplines to communicate the gospel story to a contemporary audience.
Secondly, there was a willingness to do homework/hardwork. Luke made a careful study of what has been handed over to him. He did a careful study of the various components of the gospel story. The bible accords legitimacy to research and historical investigation. We need to know the various components of the gospel story. Post Da Vinci Code (DVC) it is imperative that we know what we believe and why we believe what we believe. Only then, our story would have authenticity, authority and acceptance.
Thirdly, there was a willingness to present the story attractively. Luke arranged the different historical facts and eyewitness accounts and wrote them down in an orderly manner. Biblical scholars point to the fact that Luke had written the gospel story as a novel. Moreover, it could even be compete with the novelistic literature of his time. In modern parlance, it could be sold in any news stands and secular book shops. Luke helps us to understand that we need to reach out to a much wider audience, especially secular audience with the gospel story. We need to make an “attractive” and “intelligent” presentation of the content of the gospel story.
Fourthly, there was a commitment to excellence. Biblical scholars bear testimony to the richness of Luke’s language and vocabulary. His Jesus novel was no haphazard work. On the contrary, it was quality work that could demand a reading by a highly literary audience. We need to learn from Luke’s commitment to excellence.
Fifthly, there was a willingness to bring his expertise into his gospel story telling/keeping enterprise. Biblical scholarship point to the use of medical terms and vocabulary familiar with physicians of the time. The Christian church has a widespread talent pool. The cumulative of all our shared knowledge and expertise could be explosive. We can produce the best. We can be the best in any form of communication. Unfortunately, we dichotomize our professional and devotional lives. If each of us can add our professional skills to contemporary Christian story telling/keeping then, our story telling at the cutting edge.
Lastly, Luke was purpose-driven. He was not re-telling the gospel story without a purpose. This was to make sure that his audience would come to know the truth. That they would know the certainty of what they believed in. Luke wanted his audience to know “what” their beliefs were and more importantly, “why” they need to continue in those beliefs. The entire exercise was done so that his audience would learn to appreciate the truth, beauty and goodness of the gospel story.
It is said that he who captures the epoch, captures the story. Conversely, he who captures the story, captures the epoch. Who are the storytellers of our times? J.K Rowling, Dan Brown, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Carl Sagan and a host of Hollywood/Bollywood producers are the story tellers who capture the imagination of our generation. We are called to be Story tellers/keepers. We need to re-tell the gospel story in a manner that would capture the imagination of contemporary audiences. It is not just enough to re-tell the gospel “attractively” and “intelligently” to command a listening by contemporary audience. It is important that we re-tell the gospel story “responsibly”. True, telling the gospel story in an information age isn’t easy. But then, every generation of story keepers have done it facing the odds. We can (and we must) re-tell the story of Jesus and keep the story alive.
(This is the concluding section of the 2-part article titled “Story Keepers” in an information age by Samuel Thambusamy. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)