By Caleb Keith –
Last week I was extremely blessed with the opportunity to attend the Christ Hold Fast (CHF) conference in Orlando, Florida. CHF is a gathering of Christians across numerous denominations focusing on the proclamation of the Gospel to sinners. Perhaps the most powerful part of the conference was the incredible stories that each speaker told. These stories brought life and comfort to dead ears. Good story telling is an incredible art foundational to culture, tradition, and faith. That foundational practice was upheld at CHF most memorably by our own authors: Drs. Keith and Van Voorhis.
Dr. Keith retold the story of the prodigal son and focused on the radical hate of both sons, contrasted by the radical grace which outpoured from the father. It is the extreme nature in which Dr. Keith broke down the story that causes the hearer to see a grim reflection of their sinful condition: a corruption which rejects love and demands the death of God. In the face of the sinner’s great rebellion stands a greater God, forgiving even sons who demanded His death. In the words of the story, the extreme power of the Gospel comes alive in the hearts and minds of all who hear it.
Dr. Van Voorhis told a much different story with a nearly identical ending. He shared the story of his personal struggle with addiction. His message in the most powerful way conveyed the brokenness of sin and the guilt of the conscience. He told the story of people who continually receive condemnation, when all they need is grace. One of my favorite lines demonstrates this perfectly, “I’m afraid the ‘higher power’ we addicts hear about in AA is often what you are selling in the church. We need the ‘higher power’ that became man, the ‘higher power’ that knew the foul smelling manger and the splintered, bloody cross.” Ultimately, this story brought great comfort to the broken and reminded Christians that what we uniquely offer to this broken world is not the Law, but the Gospel.
Great stories are magical things. It is through story telling that God reveals himself to man through the Scriptures. Jesus himself was a great story teller, teaching in parables. The power of God, the Gospel, comes on the lips of story tellers who tear down the broken world, revealing the love of God that comes through Christ.