September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16 (NIV)
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”—1 John 4:9–10 (NIV)
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie that has a terrible ending? The good guy loses. The main character dies. He loses the girl. What a let down! It’s the worst! We love stories where the good guy wins. We long for a happy ending. We all have been created by God with a longing for good news. Of all of the stories in the world, the gospel is the best story ever told.
Writers use what’s called a story arc to craft their book or movie. It starts with an exposition, moves into a rising action, climaxes in a conflict, which flows into the falling action, and finally the resolution. First, you get an understanding of your hero. Then you meet the villain and are introduced to the characters who need to be saved. Next, a conflict arises and the hero and the villain face off. The hero sacrifices his life to save someone else’s life. Ultimately, the villain is defeated and the hero wins!
This story arc is based on the gospel, and it’s the foundation of every good story. Think about Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and every romantic comedy with the “happily ever after.”
Let’s place the gospel into this story arc framework. It’s actually a love story. In the Bible, God is the hero. We, His people, are those whom He loves and who need to be saved. The villain is Satan, and he’s our ultimate enemy. The enemy deceived the first man and woman and plagued all of humanity with sin, which leads to death. God loved us, His people, so much that He had a plan to save us from death. “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9 NLT).
The climax comes when this one and only Son of God, Jesus, our hero who came to save us, was put to death on a cross. How could the hero die? How will we be saved? How could the bad guy win? What a disappointing ending! But the story doesn’t end there, because three days later, Jesus came back to life! His resurrection defeated death! We are saved!
Jesus returned to His Father in heaven and promised to return for us, His people, to be with God forever. Now we’re in this already-but-not-yet-moment, between Jesus’ victory on the cross and when He comes back. He didn’t promise that we’ll never experience difficulty in this life, but He left us with a gift of the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us while we wait in hope. One day the enemy will be defeated forever (Revelation 20:10) and we, God’s people, will live with Him, happily ever after.
For now, we can live in this in between with the comfort of God’s presence and with the assurance of our happy ending. This is the gospel—the good news for all of the world! All you need to do is believe it and receive His gift of love in the greatest story ever told.
Pause: What’s your favorite movie? Think about the rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. How can you see the story arc of the gospel?
Practice: The next time you read a book or watch a movie, challenge the people you’re with to point out the gospel story arc.
Pray: Thank You Jesus for this story You’ve imprinted into my heart. Give me eyes to see the gospel You’ve written everywhere. Thank You for Your love. Thank You for rescuing me. I will wait for You in patient hope knowing You’ve already won. Help me to share this good news with those who don’t know it. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.