When the Gospel Becomes Just Another Story

My grandpa is one of the biggest role models in my entire life. I have spent the better part of my childhood learning bad habits and good habits alike from him. Growing up I spent most weekends and practically all of my summers at his house fishing and just being a kid, which entailed getting poison ivy and trying to catch any animal with fur (sometimes simultaneously).


Being around him made me learn some things about him that aren’t apparent when you first meet him, like his nickname is Toots (which I still have never learned why).


I learned early that my grandpa loves to tell stories, but not the “come sit and listen” types of stories. He would take me to old automotive shops and diners where his friends would be and I’d hear all about how they used to be rambunctious kids who eventually got caught up in a World War, and then he’d tell THE story.


He always told, and still tells, the story of how he traveled around Europe on train patrol during WWII. I’ve heard this story so many times that my eyes glaze over and I pretty much wait for him to hit the punch line. Whenever he gets to a certain point I rejoin the living and smile at my grandpa to let him know it was a good story, but in the end it’s just an old story that is useless to me.


You know what I’m talking about. There’s probably a story that you’re thinking about right now. The first time you heard it there was an excitement and a little bit of mystery to it. The story was fresh, new and even gave you something to tell others about, but eventually the excitement wore off and it became old news. So you forgot about it. You left the story behind and moved on to a new story to tell.


That’s the way most of us who grew up in Christian homes view the gospel, as an old story. It’s just something we hear every Christmas and a few other holidays of the year. All you have to do is let your mind drift off to somewhere else and wait for the pastor to say “and after the third day, he rose again from the dead!” Then smile and look a little shocked so people think you really are impacted by the significance of that statement.


Good for you. You pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you’ve taken your dose of the gospel for a while. Thank God for what the story was talking about and move on.


I’ve been there. I’ve sat in the same seat and scoffed at the idea of living by the example of an old story.  I viewed the Gospel like I’d viewed my grandpa’s story, as a useless myriad of words that I’m tired of hearing.


If you glaze over during sermons because they are boring, or get tired of reading the Bible it’s because you don’t know what the Gospel is. It’s because you’ve never fully realized what you are.


The Gospel for me represents hope, hope that will never be taken away from me. It’s a story that I wholeheartedly believe is worth hearing again, and again, and again. It’s THE story.


I’m sure this probably isn’t going to change your heart, it’s not supposed to. It’s not the Gospel. What I hope this does is that it wakes you up and gives new life to that old story you’ve been hearing.


My grandpa is over 80 years old now. He has lived his life fighting diabetes and now his mind is getting clouded. When you talk to him sometimes his mind doesn’t comprehend what you’re saying and his responses are odd. It’s really hard to see him that way. I think about when he used to drive me around and tell me all kinds of things that he used to do as a kid. Now he doesn’t tell many stories anymore. He is not the same as I remember.


The only story that he can tell is THE story. Now when he tells it I get crushed by how I love hearing him tell that story, even though I’ve heard it a million times. When you are as close with someone as I am with my grandpa you’ll hang on every word that you can get. Maybe if we cared about Christ half as much as we did about ourselves we would hang on every little thing he’s given us, like His Word.


Then we’d get what the Gospel really means.

Matt Hull