The Rescuer A three-minute story for world peace

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The Rescuer

A Three-minute Story for World Peace

Stan Nussbaum, draft of April 8, 2016

 

God, the Real God, creates a beautiful world with life everywhere, but people are tricked into thinking he is still withholding something from them so they take and try for themselves the one thing he warned was poisonous. Sure enough, death gets loose and the world gets ugly with shame, violence, abuse, and funerals.

 

But God does not give up. He takes things to a new level. Through Abraham, who really trusts him, he creates a whole God-tribe to show all the other tribes why everybody should trust him more than they trust their own judgment.

 

Down through the centuries, we see why in the story of the God-tribe as a whole and in the rescue stories of tribe members like Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, and Esther, but I'm not going into all those details right now. I just want to tell you about the person they are all pointing forward to--the Rescuer.

 

This is Jesus, the “Messiah,” the one-of-a-kind God-person who totally trusts God as his father and can totally make this rescue plan work. God sends him to earth through Mary, and it's perfect. Even his name means, “The Real God rescues.”

 

He tells the whole God-tribe, “This is it! God is making his move now! Follow me and see what I mean.” Many are thrilled to follow him but the leaders think he is a fake because he is not doing things their way. He looks so dangerous to them that they give him a death sentence and get him executed on a cross! But here is the best part of the story—Jesus does not stay dead! God brings him back to life.

 

For 40 days Jesus keeps showing up alive and explaining what is going on. Then God takes him to heaven and installs him as King of the universe. And do you know the first thing he does from there? He sends his Spirit, life, and power down into his followers, plugging them all into the rescue plan that started with Abraham. 

 

Jesus sends them out, radiating life, showing and telling that he really is the Messiah, the key to forgiveness and life for everybody everywhere including right here right now. In other words, Jesus turns the God-tribe into a God-movement anybody can join. 

 

Some people think this is the best news ever, and they join. Others are so wrapped up in their own lives or so committed to some other cause or group that they don’t want to hear anything about joining some global movement Jesus is in charge of. Some of them try everything to shut the messengers up, but it doesn’t work. The messengers are able to show the same forgiveness and courage Jesus showed when he was tortured, because he lives in them.

 

That’s how things stand for the time being, but when the set time comes, the Rescuer will come back to earth in person to complete God’s plan, and everybody will see him do it. He will destroy evil once and for all and reconnect the whole world to the Real God in all his glory.

 

And that's why we live the way we live and help everybody we can help. As Abraham’s heirs and Jesus’ messengers, we are sneak previews of a world at peace.  That's our story. What else would you like to know about it before you would say, "I'm in"?

 

-------------------------

 

If you have been missing out on this story and you think you might want to get in on it, the door is open, but be careful. If you say, "I'm in. Sign me up for the rescue movement," you are saying these things:

1. Yes, God is proactively rescuing the human race. He isn't just keeping score and reacting to what we do.

2. Yes, God's whole plan revolves around Jesus, who makes earth more like heaven and less like hell.

3. Yes, I want Jesus to put his Spirit, life, and power into me, plugging me into the God-movement that goes all the way back to Abraham.

4. Yes, I am taking my first step by the Spirit's power—forgiving everybody for everything like Jesus has forgiven me.

5. Yes, I will trust Jesus and his Spirit to get me through any suffering that comes from those who want to shut his messengers up.

 

If you say “yes” to these things, Jesus moves into your life and you become part of the rescue plan that started with Abraham. That is what the rest of your life will be about—finding out what Jesus meant by "God making his move." You won't get to run your own life or build your own kingdom any more, but you will be more alive and better connected than you have ever been, and you will know what the peace of Jesus is.

Comments:

Posted by S K Mathew on
This is a good attempt to capture the whole story in two minutes. I will also try to do it.
Posted by Stan Nussbaum on
Richard Fairhead, a friend in Cyprus, had done a 6-minute version of the story a few years ago. Seeing mine, he created a 2-minute condensed version (which I like). http://godwordthink.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-history-and-future-of-world-in-two_28.html
Posted by Bill Schertz on
I really like this idea of condensing the Big Picture. In the course of trying to witness to unbelievers, it is frequently too easy to get
side trackced from the real issue at stake! Having this condensed story in mind is a great help in keeping to the story and completing it!
Posted by Marlys McFall on
Hi Stan, George showed me this and I thought it was great! I don't mean to be critical but I just wondered if in the body of what you wrote you might mention the Cross and that it's the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin. We need to repent and turn from our sin and put our trust in Him. Then I'd add another question to include this.
Thanks for putting such a succinct presentation of God's story together! God bless you in your endeavor to make it clear. :-)
Marlys McFall, George's wife
Posted by Stan on
Great question, Marlys, and I'll add "on a cross" after "condemned and executed." However, I'm reluctant to add more about repentance and forgiveness for the following reasons:

My understanding of repentance is that it's meaning in the New Testament is far more a matter of turning toward something than away from something. The questions at the end clearly focus on what we are turning toward. When we turn toward the gospel, we thereby turn away from our previous lives. So I'm mainly trying to get people to turn toward the gospel.

I am also guessing that the cross and forgiveness message is better communicated between the lines of the story than explicitly. A key to the whole story is the "message of forgiveness in Jesus" that his followers are taking to the world. What is that message? The story-teller has to unpack it for the listener.

However, I have not stated it in the 2-minute version because if it is explicit, so many people will assume this is the "real" message and the rest of the story is just window dressing. I'm trying to help people see the cross in light of the flow of the whole story instead of in isolation from the story, focused only on paying for sin.

If sin payment were the heart and soul of the gospel, then Jesus should have died on the Day of Atonement instead of Passover (the day of rescue and of belonging to the People of God). I can't believe Jesus died on the "wrong" day.

I'm not saying the cross is unimportant or that the payment for sin is unimportant. In fact, between the lines of the story, three of the seven paragraphs are actually about the cross. They reflect on it from the three classic perspectives of theology--the cross as victory (the power paragraph), the cross as atonement (the forgiveness paragraph), and the cross as example (the courage paragraph). There are multiple strands to the meaning. "A three-fold cord is not quickly broken."
Posted by Jim Bogard on
Stan, I think you have done an excellent job in this summary. As in any summary, a lot of nit-pick details must be left out or it wouldn't be a summary. Being that your goal was to provide a two minute story that a 6th grader can understand, I think you have done well. I'm thinking that it might work well with those who are new to "English" because at this level you aren't using the big theological words that many would not understand.
Posted by Phil Andrews on
Thanks, Stan we spoke on the phone today. I'll be looking for a way to evaluate the current cultural climate here in COS. Let you know if we come up with anything.
Posted by David Meeks on
Stan,

Thanks for your careful and energetic work to share the whole biblical story.

I question the goal though. Why condense the story to two minutes? What is the hurry?

If we do really need to reduce our presentation to two minutes, wouldn't the story be theologically strengthened by expanding on the story of God's dealings with Israel. Currently it is a bit short: "He unfolds his new plan through Abraham's descendants like Jacob, Moses, David and Elijah." Why did you choose to condense the story at this point?
Posted by stan on
David,

First point--please expand the story at will. My version is a starting point not a defining framework for everybody else.

Second, the main reason for trying to make it so short is that I wanted something ordinary church members would not think was too long for them to remember and tell. That way Christian parents or grandparents could tell it to their own kids instead of leaving it for the teachers at church to do.

Another reason for brevity is that I wanted the story to raise questions. The story-teller can tell the rest of the story when the hearer(s) ask for it, not in a monologue longer than the hearer is ready for. For example, the names Jacob, Moses, David and Elijah are put there deliberately to trigger questions.

As for over-condensing the Old Testament, I was actually trying to include far more of the Old Testament than most people do when they present the gospel. The usual practice is to jump from the Fall straight to Jesus as if Abraham and his people never existed. It's a huge mistake, and I was trying to correct it by emphasizing Abraham so much (also in the New Testament part of the story).

Even at two minutes, I think many will assume the story is too long and complicated for them ever to memorize so I'm working on an option for them--a YouTube video. (Don't worry. I won't be the one telling the story in the video.) I also have in mind to do a 5 or 6 minute expanded written version that fills in a few more of the details. Input like yours helps me decide which ones to fill in. Thanks.
Posted by Stan on
Thanks to the many friends who have given input on the previous draft, especially Emily Greco and her friends at Mosaic in L.A. There are numerous changes of wording in the new one. Please continue your input. I'm working on a YouTube version in order to spread the message, but I want to get the text finalized before that goes up since it is a lot harder to change than a written script.

Meanwhile I'd be glad to hear what happens when you read or tell the story to your friends.
Posted by Stan on
Stan,

Warm greetings. Appreciate muchly your pursuit and expressions of vital Biblically disciplines ranging from personal application to historical knowledge and application. Appreciated what you set forth re the need for (my) personal discipleship...from the "Christ in you" perspective, rather than the "I'm saved and therefor a disciple." I think periodic reminders of this sort are of inestimable value to all believers...and "interest sowers" in many others.

Best to you and Lorri,

Bob
Posted by Mark Oxbrow on
I took a copy off the web before I went to Nigeria and I shared it with several of our participants there.

The narrative approach was much appreciated by the Nigerians with whom I spoke but the most common response was "why so short, why does it have to be in 3 minutes?" A woman who is a Nigerian missionary in Niger said, "we Africans love stories but they should be long stories, with plenty of colour and charactisation, and even better if they are interactive with others asking questions or even suggesting how the story should go on."

Another participant (Nigerian) who runs a discipleship training school commented on the lack of anything about Christian life-style (except for forgiveness and courage). I suppose he was commenting within the context of a week's consultation on 'whole-life discipleship' but he was concerned that the story is "good news about God's foregiveness, but it needs to say something about us needing to live like Jesus, holy living."

One final comment - from a Ghanaian missionary. He said that "even the Muslim people know who the Jews were and so using a phrase like 'God-tribe' to describe them could be confusing."
Posted by Stan on
Mark, thanks for floating the idea with some of your African friends. I had to chuckle at the remark that it was too short, since a main objection I get all the time from Americans is that it is way too long for anybody to be able to remember! I'm not at all opposed if people want to turn it into a 10-minute or 30-minute story or longer. (When I worked in southern Africa I developed a Bible survey series that ran to about 400 pages.) So by all means, let some Africans add "plenty of colour and characterization" and maybe insert some breaks for dialogue along the way. If any of them put it on YouTube in English, I'd love to see the various versions they would come up with.

I'm disappointed that the emphasis on discipleship, which is supposed to be very conspicuous, did not come through at all to the person you refer to. If Jesus sends his (Holy) Spirit into us, how can we be unconcerned about holiness? And if we are "sneak previews of a world at peace," how can we not be holy? Unholiness will produce turbulence in us and around us, not peace. Anyway, let your friend do whatever needs to be done to make discipleship and holiness more obvious in the story.

Concerning "God-tribe," I debated with myself for a while whether to use a made-up term like that or just refer to the Jews. (And the same on "God-movement" as opposed to "church.") In the end it wasn't a clear-cut decision. I think each person will have to make his/her own decision depending on the perspective of the people hearing the story.
Posted by Patrick KATAGATA on
Dear Stan Nussbaum, I count myself to have got this message live from your own mouth and acting it out with the Professors at Uganda Christian University at the recent DAI - MAOL engagements.

Thank your for making this great attempt to help me and many others understand the whole Mission of God, Jesus and the Bible in a matter of minutes! I say Yes!
Posted by Stan on
Patrick, thanks for your "Yes," and may many others say the same "Yes," knowing what they are saying to the King.
Posted by Dong Nguyen on
I think this is great. And obviously it is intended to inspire us to adjust it for our contexts.

With our animistic tribes, it is often important to explain where evil spirits come from. They are such a big part of their lives that if our story doesn't engage with that question, then the story is not relevant to the world as they experience it. But that could easily be added.

I'm amused by the comment "even the Muslim people know ..." Compared to most peoples in my part of the world, Muslim people already know a _lot_ about the God of the Jews and Christians.

But it is precisely because the Buddhist people, ancestor-worshipping people, etc., know so very little that it is essential to go back to the beginning and explain who God is and what happened in the creation and the fall.

It is also helpful to try and capture what the people of Israel were intended to be in God's plan. Not naming them may help avoid getting distracted by the confused fragments of ideas about contemporary Jews that may be in people's minds.

Great work!
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