Based on a True Story: Act Two (Genesis 3)

Big Idea: Why the brokenness? It's part of the brokenness of this world.

My life is broken because of the brokenness of the entire world.

Purpose: To understand our brokenness as part of the bigger picture of the brokenness of the world.

So what's your problem?

  • Everyone has one
  • Your problem is important
  • You come here hoping that we have something to offer
  • You can't even picture a perfect world.

A catastrophe has occurred. We are no longer in continuity with our good beginning. We have been separated from it by a disaster. We are also, of course, separated from our good end. We are, in other words, in the middle of a mess. (Eugene Peterson)

Why is your life broken? My thesis is that we tend to see our brokenness as our problem. We need to frame the problem a bit bigger.

ILLUSTRATION: Frodo from Lord of the Rings

Let me try to frame the problem from a bigger perspective, and then tell you how I think this affects the way we live and think.

Why is our life broken? Genesis 3 gives us Act Two of the six-part Story, which is the true Story of our world.

1. The world was in a state of shalom

Shalom = wholeness, completeness, fulfillment, well being
Harmony with God (Eden is the place where God lived)
Harmony with each other
Harmony with creation

2. Humanity faced temptation (1-5)

Essence of the temptation: to rebel against God (relationally).

3. Humanity rebelled against God (6)

We weren't there but we were involved, just like our parents made decisions that have affected us.

4. We are now experiencing the effects (7-24)

What does it mean to die? They didn't die instantly, but every part of creation died that day:

  • Relationship with God (3:8,23)
  • Fellow humans (blame and battle, v.12,16)
  • Self (shame and hiding, v.7)
  • World (v.16-19)

All spheres of life - marriage and family, work and worship, school and state, our play and art - bear the wounds of our rebellion. Sin is present everywhere - in pride of race, in arrogance of nations, in abuse of the weak and helpless, in disregard for water, air, and soil, in destruction of living creatures, in slavery, deceit, terror, and war, in worship of false gods, and frantic escape from reality. We have become victims of our own sin. (Contemporary Testimony)

5. The story isn't over (21)

Is the story over? No! God clothes Adam and Eve. It's only Act Two.

Why is your life broken? It's part of the larger story of the brokenness of the whole world. Your life is broken because of the brokenness of the whole world.

If Frodo met Dr. Phil -"You need to get out of these situations!" What you'd tell Frodo if you looked at his situation is much different from what you would tell him if you looked at the larger story.

Contemporary preaching...uses biblical narrative to help people make their lives work. The biblical narrative thus becomes a how-to-tool to help people in their private, personal lives, a kind of chicken soup for the Christian life...To them, it is vividly clear that the public gathering of the people of God has a single, primary purpose: meeting the private, personal needs of each individual member...

The move to counter this...begins with cultivating an environment that invites people to address their experience and to reconnect with the memory of the biblical narrative in a way that grounds their lives in a story bigger than their private needs...For people to become something more than a collection of individuals crowding together for warmth, they must recover a common narrative that gives sense to the present and shapes their future. (Roxburgh and Romanuk, The Missional Leader)

Imagine you're in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. You call in a contractor to fix your house. The contractor says,"Take a look around. It's not just about fixing your house. The whole city is broken! Let's talk about seeing your broken house as part of a broken city, and join in fixing not just your own little house, but in restoring the whole."

The purpose of your life is not to meet your own needs, but to join God in fixing the brokenness of the whole world - but for that we need to wait until Act Three.

Based on a True Story: Act One (Genesis 1:26-2:3)

Big Idea: How does the true story of all the world begin? By giving us our identity in relationship to God and the world.

The story of this world tells us who we are in relationship to God and the world.

Purpose: To understand the Bible as story, and our place in that story.


"The church can't live without the Bible, but doesn't have much of an idea on how to live with it." (N.T. Wright)

Do you see the Bible as a:

  • tool to be used for a variety of reasons and to meet innumerable needs
  • help desk for finding an answer to a pressing problem
  • hammer to drive home a doctrinal position
  • safety deposit box holding a depository of information and knowledge that can be collected when needed

There is some validity to all of these approaches, but they are all insufficient. Leads us to mine Scripture, highlighting some parts and quietly setting others aside.

I'd like to suggest an alternate and better way of reading Scripture that can not only change the way that you see the Bible, but that will change how you see your life.

The Bible as Story

Instead of seeing the Bible as a collection of genres, characters, letters, and writings, what about if we saw it as a story, the story, of the world?

  • Our whole lives are shaped by some story. (e.g. humanist story - big bang, leading to better world through science and progress; postmodernism - no grand story, we are limited to our perspectives, no conclusion)
  • The Bible tells a story to challenge and subvert all other grand stories.
  • It is not a collection of stories. It is a single, comprehensive story."The whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story which is the story of the whole world." (N.T. Wright)
  • This story changes how we live our lives.

"I can only answer the question"What am I to do?" if I can answer the prior question"Of what story do I find myself a part?" (Alasdair MacIntyre)

"The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is a part?" (Lesslie Newbigin)

  • We do not try to make the Story relevant to our lives. We make our lives relevant to the Story. (Example: scenes cut from a movie. The scenes are often brilliant, but they aren't relevant. The director does not change the big story to make these little stories relevant. The little stories have to be relevant if they are going to fit in.)

Over the next couple of months, we are going to tell the Story. God invites us into that story, and it reads and shapes us.

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (Luke 24:27)

I'm going to suggest that it's a Six Act Play. Part of Act Five is not written on purpose. We are like Shakespearean actors, who learn the rest of the story so well that we can improvise our role in Act Five.

Act One: God establishes His Kingdom (Creation)

Genesis 1 and 2 are not primarily concerned with how God made the world. It's a passage that shows us God's original intention for creation, and introduces us to three main characters:


His name is given in 2:4. Yahweh: Israel's Redeemer; Elohim: World's Creator. The God who created the Universe is our God. He is distinct from Creation, King over Creation, powerful, involved, and personal.

The World

It is very good (1:31). The world isn't something we escape from. We read later in the play that the world is also our future destiny (new heaven and new earth).

God encounters us in the world. We are not detached from or superior to this world of space and time and matter. The world is the theatre of God's glory. We are world-affirming when we understand the Story.

God is continually praised for His creation:

"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being." (Revelation 4:11)


Who are we?

  • made in God's image (1:27) - likeness of God; inherently like God
  • made for relationship (1:27; Garden)
  • to do God's work (1:29-30) - Imagine being a 15th century sculptor. Michelangelo calls you in and asks if you would be willing to complete a piece of the sculpture he has begun.

Jesus asked Peter,"Whom do you say that I am?" That is also a good question for us. God's answer: You are made in my image, made for relationship, and to do God's work in the world.

Goal: To shape our lives by the story. Invite you to do two things: begin to see Scripture as a Story, and to understand our place within that Story.

More Resources

Easter Sunday (Ephesians 1:15-23)

Big Idea: Because of what God has done, my prayer is that you would know God and all the benefits of the Gospel.

Purpose: To experience the benefits of the Gospel.

A priest was being interviewed on Thursday on the radio. He was asked, "What does Easter mean for us today?" I had to go, so I didn't hear the rest of the interview. So I've been thinking about the answer all on my own.

Here's what I've come up with: It's an act in the past (God's work in Christ), but it has changed history and it determines your future. In other words, it's an act in the past that changes your life today.

You ask, "How could it possibly change my life?" Good question, because the answer is not immediately obvious. We're going to look at a passage that explains exactly how it changes the course of your life. It's a prayer that the plan of God would affect the lives of those who have entered into that plan

Primary request: That your eyes will be opened (1:17-18) - It's possible to have eyesight and yet be blind. It's possible to go through life with what you need right in front of you, and yet with eyes that are unable to see the resources you've been given to live.

Literally "may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him - since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened". In other words, "I know that you have been rescued; that the blinders of the devil have been removed. Because of this, I can know pray that you will fully understand and see all God has prepared for you."

Outcome of this eyesight being granted: That revealing Spirit will allow them to experience three benefits.

ONE: The hope of his calling (18)

Illustration: choosing teams as kids. Sometimes you knew you lost before you ever played the game, because of your teammates. But other times, you knew you won if you ended up on the right team.

Prayer - that we would understand the significance of God's choosing us - we won just by being picked
Hope = faith standing on tiptoe; tilting to the future

TWO: The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (18)

Unsure what this means:

  • The glories that are present when God inherits the people he has chosen for himself - "You have never talked to a mere mortal... Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ...the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."
  • OR that it could mean that we will inherit all the wealth of God himself

Whatever it means, it means you're rich - you have a value (external to you) that can't be measured.

THREE: His incomparably great power (19-23)

Four different words for power in verse 19. This power was demonstrated in two decisive acts:

  • raised Jesus from the dead
  • catapulted Jesus to the supreme place of authority in the universe

It's easy to give up and to give in to fate, determinism, and despair.

The power needed to live a life pleasing to God is the same power that raised Christ from the dead and enthroned him.

Because of what God has done, my prayer is that you would know God and all the benefits of the Gospel.
How? Illustration: check for my mother. The reason we don't experience this is often that we don't know we have it available. Cash the check.

I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

Palm Sunday (Luke 19:28-44)

Big Idea: The Gospel is good news and bad news depending on our response.

Purpose: To respond to the Gospel by recognizing Jesus' kingship and joining his mission.

Introduction: Have you ever really looked forward to something, only to be really disappointed?

For instance: my birthday last year

This is going to happen on a much more cosmic scale. We're going to see this in one of the climactic events of Jesus' life.

Jesus tells a story (11-27) to interpret what happens (28-44). He wants us to understand why the Gospel can be not only everything we hoped for, but why it can also be very bad news as well:

One: The Gospel is about the kingship of Jesus (12)

This story mirrored actual events - Herod in 40 BC and Archelaus in 4 BC went to Rome to receive ruling authority from the emperor. There was a public outcry against Archelaus.

What does the story of an absent king come from? We usually interpret it to refer to the period between Jesus' resurrection and return. It's not a parable about his second coming. It's explaining what Jesus was doing and what it meant in coming to Jerusalem. He was challenging his listeners to see and understand this event as the long awaited return of Israel's God, the sovereign and rightful king.

Two: The responses to the Kingship are mixed

Three responses:

  • outright rebellion; rejection of the kingship
  • acceptance of his kingship and mission
  • acceptance of his kingship but neglect of his mission

It's that last one that gets me. Israel was to be a light to the nations, on mission with God to bless the world. They accepted his kingdom, but they didn't invest their lives in the mission of God.

Three: The return of the King is good news and bad news depending on our response

Judgments: 15-27

  • acceptance of his kingship and mission (16-19) - Note different results
  • acceptance of his kingship but neglect of his mission (20-26)
  • outright rebellion (27)

Actual return of the king(42-48)

The real question I want to ask you is: what is your response to the Kingship of Jesus? You can make two mistakes:

One: Rejecting his kingship

Two: Neglecting his mission (missio Dei) - As a church and individually; to live for more than yourself; to be an agent of the kingdom and make it your primary concern

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. (Malachi 3:2-4)

The Lord's Supper (Luke 22:7-23)

Big Idea: What is the purpose of the Lord's Supper? It gives us our rhythm and a story.

Purpose: To understand the purpose of the Lord's Supper.

The Lord's Supper is something that can appear strange. It can become familiar, and it can lose its meaning.

What is the purpose? To give us our rhythm and our story. It sets the rhythm for our present by awakening our memory.

The power of story: we all have a story. That story isn't just our past. It tells us who we are and who we are becoming.

What's our story?


v. 7 - Passover - reminded Israel of its central event: its exodus from Egypt

They ate a meal with roasted lamb, eaten with bitter herbs (to remind them of the bitterness of slavery) and unleavened bread (to remind them of their haste in leaving Egypt). It was originally designed to be eaten with their cloak, sandals, and staff in hand (Exodus 12:11).

At the end of the meal, someone (usually the youngest son) was designated to ask, "Why is this night different from other nights?" The host would recount the Exodus story.

Here's why this was important: For much of their history, it was easy to forget the Exodus story. This annual ritual, with its story and supper and songs, kept their salvation at the center of their identity.

Here, Jesus gives us our story. 15 - Jesus came to this meal with enthusiasm. 19 - His body, symbolized by bread, is the fulfillment and replacement for the Passover lamb.

It's easy for us to forget our story. Jesus says, "This unleavened bread you are eating - this is me, my flesh; the wine you are drinking; this is me, this is my blood, from when I died as your Passover Lamb. My death is going to become your life." It's a new exodus.

It's the definitive practice of the Christian community that keeps Jesus before us as the Savior of the world, and our Savior.

Make this story your story.


We usually think of remember as "oh yes, right, Now I remember." It's actually more than that. It means to re-enact, participate once again.

It means to recall and represent before God an event in the past, so it becomes here and now and operative in its effects. Luther and Calvin were bold enough to assert the real presence of Christ as we eat this meal.

So it's more than remembering a fact. It is realizing its effects today.

Two things about it: can't do anything but receive it. And it is the new covenant (20) promised from Jeremiah 31: forgiveness of sins and enabling power of God's Spirit.

Illustration: push vs. pull - If a door says "push" and you pull, it won't open no matter how hard you try. All the effort in the world won't open that door. Try this way, with the power of the Spirit.


When you plan a wedding, you get to sample some meals. These meals tell you what it's going to taste like at the real event, at the wedding supper.

16 - In God's timetable, this is the last Passover meal before the wedding feast. Paul says, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

This meal re-orients us to our past, our present, and our future.

Next year in Jerusalem...