Which Story Will We Tell?

The stories we tell have a powerful influence in determining the life that we will lead. In our national life, we need a different story.

Every morning when I get up I get to determine which story will guide my day. Some days I am all too aware of my deficiencies.

  • I’m not very organized.
  • I live in my head.
  • It’s easy for me to procrastinate.

Some day’s it’s hard not to let that be the story.

I also recognize that for all my deficiencies, I also have gifts and I get to do my work in an amazing congregation with amazing people who invite me into the celebrations and the sorrows of their lives. I get to be part of God’s big work of bringing hope and life to a hurting world. That’s pretty cool. I want that to be the story that guides my day.


With respect to so many important matters in our national life together, we the people get to decide which story we’re going to tell.

There’s a story being told by the candidates for arguably the most powerful office in the world. They’re telling what is apparently a compelling story.

  • We should be afraid of people that aren’t like us.
  • Religions other than Christianity are dangerous.
  • By virtue of US power and exceptionalism, we have the right to impose our values and inflict violence on people around the world.
  • People who want to provide a life for their families have no right to leave war-torn places or places which offer them no opportunity for work to support their families and come to this land of opportunity.  (Even when, arguably, our own military and economic policies have contributed to the circumstances which have led to their insecurity. I digress.)
  • We have no obligation to our neighbor; I only need to care about myself and my tribe.
  • What makes us different and divides us is much more significant that what makes us similar and unites us.

While it may be a compelling story, it’s also a story that goes against everything I believe about God, about the human family, and about our life together. So, I am determined to tell a different story.

This Sunday, I’m going to be part of a gathering of Muslims and Christians that is sponsored by DuPage United, an organization of organizations committed to developing partnerships and taking action to improve our communities. Just before Christmas, a few of us came together believing that the story that is getting told is not the story we want to live. A little over a month ago, we set the ambitious goal of an event that would include 500 people, roughly equal numbers of Muslims and non-Muslims, to gather for conversation and relational work. Who would have believed that 4 days before the event, we have nearly 700 signed up, and we expect those numbers to continue to grow until we gather on Sunday afternoon? The majority of time will be spent one on one, neighbor with neighbor, getting to know one another; in doing so, we will begin to repair the torn fabric of our communities. We intend this event to be the opening of a long campaign of solidarity and partnership.

We are getting together because we want to be guided by a different story.

  • Our differences are not be be feared, but embraced.
  • We need each other and we can learn from each other.
  • Our neighbors are not strangers to be despised; they are fellow human beings to be loved and served.
  • We are all called to work together to enact God’s vision of a world redeemed and reconciled.

From what I can tell, it’s going to be a pretty good story.

I’ll come back next week and let you know how things went.

2 thoughts on “Which Story Will We Tell?

  1. Erik Christensen

    Thanks for the reminder, Jim. I’ve been struggling with the relentless anxiety of the “election year” story, and have found that listening to people’s personal stories of life, loss, healing, redemption, etc. on podcasts like “The Moth” has kept my mood from spiraling the drain.

    Your blog posting also put me in mind of the TED talk I recently watched on “The Danger of a Single Story” — shared online at: https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

    Thanks for keeping us focused on things worth remembering!


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