28. Seeing through the Redemptive Narrative (part… | God's World News


Kelsey Reed • 07/19/2023
Concurrently Ep 28 Thumb

Kelsey Reed
Hello, welcome to Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast from WORLD Radio and God’s WORLD News. Our mission is to come alongside you, learning and laboring with you as you disciple kids and teens through culture and current events. I’m Kelsey Reed. I’m here with Jonathan Boes.

Jonathan Boes

Together, we want to model conversation and apply tools you can use at home or in the classroom. And we invite you: Send in your questions for us to address in future episodes. We love it when you record it on your Voice Memo app in your cell phone and email it to us at newscoach@wng.org.

We love receiving questions. So if you have something, don’t feel hesitant to send it our way, because it honestly helps us shape our discussion to what is actually on people’s minds. It’s so helpful for us to hear your thoughts, your questions.

Last week, we began our exploration of the Redemptive Narrative as a tool not just for understanding scripture and not just for understanding our personal experience, but actually for looking at the stories we see in the news. This is the big picture that helps us frame everything we see going on around us. So if you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, we would encourage you to pause this, go back one week, listen to part one of our exploration, because that is going to lay the foundations for everything we talk about today as we jump into the last two sections of the Redemptive Narrative, as we come out of the past and start moving towards the present and even the future. But before we do that, maybe a quick recap of where we left things last week?

We were sitting in the tension as we ended our episode last week, that tension of longing: longing for Messiah to come, that recognition that we were desperate for redemption, that third lens in our narrative, that third chapter where we see this movement of that grief and longing and pain, almost like Good Friday into Easter morning. And so we began to explore those chapters and what that has in terms of implication not only for stories that we look at but for our mature Christian response and the tension in which we live right now.

So we talked about that first place in the narrative, of Creation, that the world was created as good, that mankind was created as very good in the image of God. And then we talked about that place of the Fall, that mankind rebelled, that sin and death came into the world, that the story now cries out for some form of resolution—like you said, Kelsey, sitting in that tension, almost that Good Friday to Easter tension. You know, we’ve let ourselves sit here for a week waiting for part one of our episode to turn into part two. The world waited for millennia for a Savior to arrive. But then finally, the story arrives at this third place in the narrative, the point of redemption.

The next portion of the narrative is that amazing other mystery of the Lord entering into His world, in the flesh, clothing Himself with man’s garb, that He could do all that was required to restore man to his position before the Father within creation. The richness of this story when we parse it out like this moves me. The reason why we do this with our children is that their hearts might be shaped by its beauty. There is nothing like this story in all the world. And so our capital S Story, our metanarrative that includes the beautiful provision in Christ—this is the story through which we look at all other story, and we see that nothing is like this, that everything else is a mere shade. But there are elements of redemption. Man is crying out for a solution. And so we see these echoes, repeated through every story of man, where there is a redemptive agent in all of the best stories.

And so we see that God sends a solution to this problem of the Fall, this problem of man’s brokenness, that Jesus comes and takes on that brokenness and heals it, makes a way that we can have freedom from sin. But we see also in this place that we are, you know, some people call it “the already but not yet.” We have freedom from sin in Christ. But there are still the effects of the Fall all around us, and even in our own lives. Even when we have entered that family of the church, entered that union with Christ, we can still see the effects of the Fall in our own lives and we still struggle with that temptation to sin. To pick up St. Augustine one more time, the phrase he uses now is “we are able to not sin.” So we can still choose to sin, but now through the strength of Christ, we have the ability to choose not to sin.

Posse non peccare.

I’m going to let you pronounce the Latin from now on.

I don’t think so. I mean, come on, Latin’s a dead language. Do any of us know how to pronounce it?

No. I mean, it could have been like a Southern twang, like possey non pickarry.

It’s lovely in anybody’s mouth. The point being, what an excellent way to describe these very distinct categories, because Latin is very precise in these areas. And please, listener, just know, my Latin is very, very limited. But in this case, I’m really learning through its lens. As with each of these lenses, we’re looking through lenses to help our focus to click better into place. And so I’m thankful for these terms and how they help my focus to just click just a little bit better into place. So we are now united to Christ by His Spirit. He lived a perfect life for us, died a perfect death, was the perfect sacrifice. He gave us His righteousness. He took on all of our unrighteousness and it was paid for in full on the cross. And then proving that He had divine power over all things, that His authority was not the authority of man—it was not godlike, it was God Himself—He resurrected. He showed that He has the power over life and death. All authority under heaven and Earth is given to Him. And when He did that, He restored image bearers to their place, as I’ve mentioned it already, through His image. He is the image of God, whereas we’re just image bearers. He was the image of God invisible. And so this comes back to our theology of image bearing. Jesus is the image of God, and He placed that image, all of His record, on us, that we might again once more bear His image before the Father to all creation. Wow.

And one big thing that we probably should have touched on even earlier is that the last two portions of the story, Creation and Fall—those are things that happened in the past. Of course, the work of Christ is also something that happened in the past, but this is still the chapter of the story that we are in today. So if you think of the Redemptive Narrative as a map, this point of Redemption, that is the “you are here” dot. This is where everything in our lives, everything we see in the news and current events—we are located in this already-but-not-yet place of Redemption, where there are still the effects of the Fall, but because of the work of Christ—it changes everything about how we view the world.

C.S. Lewis quote alert. When Aslan is killed on the stone table, and then he is restored to life, there’s this great quote of “all things working backwards.” The curse that the land of Narnia had been subjected to under the power of the White Witch, when this perfect sacrifice was made on the stone table, all of the curse began to work backwards. And that’s the time in which we’re living, is that the curse is being rolled back as we move forward to the next portion of our story.

But I don’t want to be there yet, just like we’re in the now and not yet. I think about this reference point through which we are looking at all story, even all of scripture. We look at it through the reference point of Redemption because we are here in this map. When we look back to Genesis, when we look back to the record of the Fall, or when we look at what David is crying out for in the Psalms, or what Job was wrestling with in his story, when we look at the exile, when we look at the exodus of the Israelites, we’re seeing all these things through the lens of Redemption. And we can see the Lord’s redemptive purposes all the more clearly with greater focus, because we have this lens to add.

I recently had to go to the eye doctor, and they do this thing where they flip the lenses back and forth, and they ask which one is better. We have these lenses that are being put in front of our eyes and flipped to where we’re getting greater and greater clarity of vision as we look through these beautiful pieces of the story, to behold all of scripture, of the world.

It allows us to look back on all that hard stuff in the Fall that, at the time, may have felt despairing or meaningless. And now we know that it is all transformed into hope.

And I also think about bringing it back to where this part of our Redemptive Narrative impacts the way we look at the news. We’ve been talking about how the Redemptive Narrative really informs our analysis of the news. I think this point of Redemption really informs our response to the news. Because, as we said, in the Fall, before Redemption, we were unable not to sin. Even our attempts to fix things were futile. Now we know that in Christ there is hope. There is hope to conquer death and sin and to even see goodness here in the world. And a few episodes back, when we were talking about the way fiction shapes our sensibilities, we discussed the difference between sympathy, empathy, and compassion. I want to bring that back here really briefly, because I think in the place of the Fall, that is where we can really build that sympathy and empathy and understand the brokenness of others, understand the suffering of others. But because of Christ’s redemptive work, because we are here, in the chapter of the story where redemption has been accomplished, that allows us to move forward into compassionate action, to not just stop at “I understand your suffering,” but to move forward into “there is healing.”

Compassion. We begin to seek to define that by recognizing that com, as with con, has to do with being with. And so as soon as I think of being with, I think of Jesus, God with us, Immanuel. If we look through that triangle, again, of what we are restored to within creation and within humanity by God’s redemptive work in Christ, we are restored as image bearers to Him but also to one another, that we would be with one another, that we would be “love with skin on,” as Amy said recently in our discussion of suffering. That part of our role is to be Jesus to one another, His hands and feet as the Church to those who do know Him and those who do not yet know Him. So redemption. Yes, it guides our response, our mature discipleship response in the world. What a lovely thing to camp out in and to consider and to ask the Lord to instruct our hearts about what that looks like in our context.

So I think, for the sake of time, as much as I could also talk about this point of the narrative for so long, we should move towards the grand finale. The last point, this is the point that is essential for ending our story in the place of good news, which is Restoration or Glory.

There is a hope that will not disappoint us. We live in that tension of now and not yet, but there is something yet to come in which we place our hope, which, through Augustine’s terms, there is going to be a place where we are no longer able to sin.

And so if you think back to Creation, we had this amazing unbroken relationship with God. But there was still that potential for brokenness. But what we see in scripture is that we are going to come to a place at the end of this story where that relationship is healed and there is no longer that potential for brokenness.

Kelsey Reed
Non posse peccare, no longer able to sin. That hoped-for outcome is not just hoped for. It’s not a hope against hope. It has been sealed for us in Christ. We have the first taste of that, the foretaste, the first fruits, even in what has been produced in our lives through the work of the Spirit in us: the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. We see those being born in us. So we know that there is a time where that is going to be perfected in our lives, when we see Him face to face, and are made just like Him.

So back to that image. We won’t be that man who’s looking into scripture and forgetting what we look like, forgetting our image, forgetting who we are. We will no longer forget who we are. We will be a perfect, unmarked image of the Father. And every tear will be wiped away.

When we think about the news and we talk about what’s going on in each of these stories with our children, we can point to the goodness of weeping over what is broken. But the hope that every tear will be wiped away, and that we even have the great privilege of being a part of His kingdom coming and moving in as agents of reconciliation, agents of restoration, with that hope of the ultimate restoration that is before us.

It gives us the ability to do our work. We’re not holding on hoping everything works out okay. No, we are working in the confidence that everything works out okay, that we know how the story ends. And I love the pattern we see of God’s grace, that we’re not just getting back what we lost in the Fall, but that God wants to give us so much abundantly more than we lost, that we are being restored to a relationship that is even greater than that which was lost in the Fall.

This is the best story. And with any story that you engage with your children, maybe you can begin to ask them questions to help them look through those lenses we’ve defined today.

For older children, you might ask: Who is the proclaimed authority in this? For youngers, you might be asking them just simply: What is good in this story? That is, of course, camping in the Creation lens. For looking at the Fall or elements of Rebellion, you might ask them: What is broken? What does the story proclaim to be broken? What is wrong? What is the problem? That is a worldview question that every worldview seeks to answer. Buddhism proclaims that suffering is the problem. We would push back against that through our worldview. We would say that there’s a different problem, and that is sin. So we ask those questions—what is viewed as the problem in this story?—when we’re camping out in that lens of Rebellion or Fall.

Moving into Redemption—when asking a question of your teens in this area, you would ask: What is the proclaimed solution in this story for the problem that is also identified? For younger children, you’d say: What will fix this problem? What do you see in this story that is the solution, the fix to the problem? What do we think is the true solution, the only thing that will fix this problem?

And then moving on to look at this and ask questions through the lens of Restoration. We would ask: What are the ultimate outcomes? What do we believe is going to happen after life? What does this story say is going to happen after life is through? Do they even acknowledge that there is something after this life? Which returns us to those thoughts of Andy Crouch—are they telling the whole story? Is the story being told from glory to glory, or from bad news to bad news? How can we foster a good news to good news perspective in our children? Partly, it’s by telling the story, but partly it’s by helping them to ask those questions of every story they see.

And that’s what is so great about this, that it’s a narrative. It’s something, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter what culture you come from or what language you speak. These building blocks of story are ingrained in our universe. And we see them all over the place. Even, I mean, think about the story of Cinderella that pops up in some form in like every culture you can think of. You see the same pattern that it starts with—she’s happy with her family, there’s this like Creation. She loses her father, she’s in this terrible situation with her stepmother, you know, when you see that Fall. Then there is this moment where the fairy godmother shows up and she gets the dress and goes to the ball. It’s like this redemptive moment. And then it ends even better than it began, with a “happily ever after” where she is the princess with her prince.

That’s just one example. But as you look at stories, throughout fairy tales and cultures and myths, these are like what C.S. Lewis called the “good dreams” that God put out in all these different cultures, that point to the true story of this Redemptive Narrative. You’ll see this pattern all over. It’s a pattern that’s so recognizable. And it’s a pattern that anyone in any culture, at any level, can understand. And it’s something we can use to help us better understand scripture, help us better understand the news, to help us better understand ourselves, and most importantly, to help us better understand our amazing God and what He has done in His creation.

Deuteronomy instructs the believer to have these conversations with their children, in our going out and in our coming in, when we rise, and when we go to bed, in every single movement and moment of our day to talk about the words of truth, about the authority and the goodness of the Father. We see that as a good part of our work to nurture those things in our children.

We live in a similar tension to that tension we left you with in our first episode, a tension of longing for the Savior to return. We are in a place called the now and the not yet, where He has come once, He has made us His own, He has left us with another Helper, who is a powerful partner, partnering us for the work He has also left us with. 2 Corinthians 5 says:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away”—with redemption, with atonement in Christ, and “the new has come” in Christ. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”

So where we are now is that place of engaging as ambassadors of the truth, ambassadors of redemption, bringing more and more of His kingdom into all of life, proclaiming His story, the best story, proclaiming that He is with us, that He longs to be with us and to restore us and all of creation to Himself. He says in Revelation: “Behold, I am making all things new.” We live in that place where the new is unfolding. The old has passed away.

This is a part of the work that we have the privilege of doing in His world. Parents, mentors, teachers, even students—He has equipped you for that work.

Show Notes

Part two of our exploration into the Redemptive Narrative. How do the final two chapters of the Biblical story inform not just how we view the news, but how we view all of life?

Check out The Concurrently Companion for this week's downloadable episode guide including discussion questions and scripture for further study

We would love to hear from you. You can send us a message at newscoach@wng.org. What current events or cultural issues are you wrestling through with your kids and teens? Let us know. We want to work through it with you.

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Further Resources:

Concurrently is produced by God’s WORLD News. We provide current events materials for kids and teens that show how God is working in the world. To learn more about God’s WORLD News and browse sample magazines, visit gwnews.com.

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