Once upon a time…
is a phrase that has been used since the 1300’s to begin story. Story gives life color. It paints a picture. It gives background and understanding. Think about some of the most famous stories of all time- let’s say Cinderella for example. Cinderella being locked up in a room sewing a fancy dress with mice doesn’t quite pack the punch when you don’t know that once upon a time her mom died and her dad married a total whack job. You don’t have the same hatred and anger and you don’t feel her situation is as wrong as it truly is unless you hear her story. When you watch the ever so thrilling Alfred Hitchcock film, Rear Window, we know it ends with Thorwald confessing he kills his own wife. Yeah yeah, a dramatic movie with a man who buried his wife in the backyard-we have heard that one before. But when you see the once upon a time unfold through the eyes of his neighbor who sits in a wheelchair and sees the drama play out of his rear window, you know why this is one of the greatest films of all time. When you look at the Beebs, he looks like a sellout poser and then you see his once upon a time story and realize he came from little, grew up without a dad and opened up a bongo drum when he was like 3 and mastered it the first time he played. You see he was born with talent and when you see his hair twitch while he plays his guitar outside his local mall, it makes you like Bieber, even if you were a hater, and now you can “never say never”.
Understanding our once upon a time story changes everything. It changes how we view ourselves, how we view others and how we view God.
The Bible story is one that begins with a God who takes nothing and makes it something. He forms what is shapeless and fills what is empty. He makes what’s not- what is. The beginning of Genesis tells of a God who called forth light and day and night and made the expanse, what is land and
sky. He thought it was a good idea to make the pomegranate, the peach tree and corn on the cob. But that wasn’t enough. God called forth starfish in so many colors and worms that can be broken in half and still live and caterpillars that turn into beautiful butterflies. He breathed life for the first time into the tulip’s brilliant colors, the goose who had no need to migrate yet, and the puppy who had yet to become pit bull. Then God said ‘lets us make man’ and he took dust from the ground and He breathed life into it and there was man- fine in form! Then God took from the man one rib and made woman. And the man saw this hotly and said “Whoa man!” and that is how she became known as woman. God made them and He loved them and He basically said “play and frolic in this beautiful space I have given you to live.”
In the Bible we have our
story of origin
and if believed by faith it changes the way you look at the world.
What do I mean?
When I see you as created by God, I see you as important, special, and worthy of life. When I believe I am created, I understand my life was intended and destined no matter what anybody or any circumstance says. We were made and our
As this once upon a time story goes…things get really screwed up. It is a story of a people in rebellion who continually to choose their own way and their own way doesn’t seem to work- so this God keeps trying to guide them toward the path of least destruction. It is a story of people who have no loyalty. They’ll screw everybody and their brother, to get where they want to go and God in this story tries to restore their sense of love and care for others. It is a story of people who are the definition of dysfunction junction. They sleep with their own fathers, kill each other with tent pegs and use animals for their own pleasure. The sins of their families passed on right into their stories and their DNA and this story tells of a God who wants to be bigger than family baggage.
We get this part of the story.
Once upon a time things got really messy. Once upon a time he left and never came back. Once upon a time they betrayed me. Once upon a time I messed up so big time that things will never be the same. Once upon a time I cared and now I don’t give a damn. Once upon a time we were happy
and now we are miserable. Once upon a time I was pure and now I am tainted.
So we get this part of the story in the Bible. It’s like somehow along the way, man plowed down the flowers to build strip malls and geese started migrating to get away from choking on bubble gum, the pit bull started eating children for snacks and kids are raising themselves. The God throughout this book seems to be a God who is continually trying to restore what people damaged. It is a story about how religious people stained spirituality and the pursuit of God and it tells of God’s way of redeeming that. As we get this story in the Bible it goes on to tell… in the midst of what humanity damaged with their greed and pride, their stubborn hearts and their ugly wars, the story goes that God shows up in the hood of the
war zone and actually hangs out with them because he desires what is getting so old to become new again, as He originally intended.
And when God shows up in the neighborhood, Jesus collides with people trying to remind them LIFE MATTERS. Those people you judge, they matter. Those people you pass by and pretend they are invisible, they matter. Those people that believe differently than you do and you think
they are nuts, they matter. Those people that look different than you do- they matter. Those people who intimidate you, they matter. Those people who hurt you, even they matter. Jesus told stories all the time challenging His listeners to believe that they mattered and so did their neighbors. But He not only told stories about life mattering, Jesus lived and died that story so you would believe it. And you believing that LIFE MATTERS – Jesus thought, would have the enormous capacity to change the entire world back to the way it was intended to be,