There's an interesting phenomenon in the Scriptures, first with the prophets and then the apostles, and that is this: every time one of the men of God begins to tell the story of God, God's people, Jesus, his own transformation, whatever from the very beginning, the story is recorded in full, as though we do not know it. As though we have never heard it before.
It's exceptionally common in the Old Testament, where prophets often spoke of God's intervention for His people, Israel, from the time of Egypt, then track back usually to the promise to Abraham, the sons of Jacob, Joseph's captivity, and onward to the Promised Land.
Luke does it in Acts. When Stephen is accused, he stands up and tells the story of God's people, and Luke recounts it in full. Then Paul, when he is accused, tells the story of his own conversion and then, when Paul is accused again, he tells the story of his own conversion once more. And Luke records them both in full. That means that Luke tells us three times the conversion of Paul.
It's not how we usually tell stories, not today, anyway. We'd be more prone to say something like, "And then Stephen stood up and recited the history of the Jews from the time of Abraham, Jacob, and the Exodus, to the crowd, men of God who already knew the story well and were pleased to hear it from him...until he got to the Jesus part."
Or we might say, "And then Paul told them how he was converted on the road to Damascus, the whole story."
And we'd say that that was enough. That readers would get the gist of it. That it was sufficient to call back to mind the general happening and to get everyone to know what we were talking about.
But God's story, when it is told, is never told in the brief. It's not enough to say, "And then, we told the story of God."
Perhaps that is our problem.
We have forgotten how God's story is told, that He requires it told in the details, in full color, in complete recognition and remembrance of how He was in it. We are a people who are prone to say, "And then God showed up" and think that's sufficient. Or to say, "We remember that God was there" that one time. You know, that one time that He was there. Remember?
Oh yeah, that one time.
But everyone already knows the story, we say. Why do we have to tell it again? We know how God freed the Israelites from Egypt; we read it in Exodus. We know how Jesus blinded Paul on the road to Damascus; we just read that four pages ago. Why do we have to read it again?
Why can't Luke just say, "Then Paul told them the story again"?
Because God's story is not an "again." It's living and active, dynamic. It has to be told in a way that it comes to life, for God has come that we might have life and have it abundantly, not that we might have stories or a good story or a bunch of facts to know.
When we talk about God, we're supposed to bring Him to life. He's not just a story. He's not just a history. He's not just something that happened and then a new thing happened and now something different is happening. He is alive. He's not a cliff note.
And that means that every time we tell His story, we tell it in full, in living color. Never shortened. Never suggestive. Never, eh, you probably understand what I mean. Never, eh, that's the gist of it, give or take.
Shine a light on that story. Tell it with all the gusto of a four-year-old in the living room with a boa draped around her shoulders, putting on her first show. Tell it with the fire of a five-year-old showing off his best ninja moves. Tell it with all the passion of a prophet or an apostle, who never left a single word out but wanted the world to know, without a doubt, who God is.
He is the Lord who....