In his book, ‘The God Desire’, comedian David Baddiel explains why he doesn’t believe in God. As a reason for his unbelief, Baddiel explores the human desire to find meaning in our lives – ‘Humans have a need to organise, to structure, the chaos of existence. They need to feel that life has narrative…God provides all this. He storifies life.’ For Baddiel, this desire for meaning and structure is understandable, but doesn’t make God’s existence any more true.
But, what if the ‘story’ that Baddiel talks about is not a convenient invention to help us navigate disorder and suffering? What if the story of God is as real as the story of our everyday lives? What if they are actually the same story? Join us for a teaching series in the biblical book of Mark, to re-discover the greatest story of all – the story that defines us all.
‘All is not well with the world, but at least God is here in it, with us. We don’t have an argument that solves the problem of the cruel world, but we have a story.’
Session 1: An Epic Story
Mark – Chapter 1, verses 1-8
K. Chesterton once said , ‘I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story, there is a storyteller.’ In this introduction to the series, we are introduced to the ultimate story of history – the story with Jesus at its heart. Jesus was the rescuer promised for thousands of years, as described in the Old Testament. It is a story of God’s great rescue plan. It began in Gen 3:15, and continues to this day, as we discover our part in the greatest story ever.
Session 2: A Story Of Relationship
Mark – Chapter 1, verses 9-28
Relationships are so important, aren’t they? Friendships; colleagues; communities; families; partners. They give such joy and such pain. But why? Maybe it’s because at the heart of the story of our lives is a relationship that most of us don’t think about – God’s relationship. Why is the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit so important? Why is it such a key part of the story of Jesus, and of our lives? We’ll discover the authority that relationship gives Jesus, as we discover he wasn’t just another good teacher. And this, changes everything.
Session 3: A Story Of Second Chances
Mark – Chapter 2, verses 1-17
Have you ever been in a situation when you really messed something up? Said something you regretted; did something that you wish you could undo? In those kind of situations, most of us would do anything to have a second chance. What if life is like that? Jesus came to bring us something we might not even realise we need, forgiveness, a second chance. A way back to a relationship with the God who made us and loves us.
Session 4: A Story That Breaks The Rules
Mark – Chapter 2, verses 18 to Chapter 3, verse 6 (& Chapter 7)
Most classic stories have a good and a bad main character. But what if the line between good and bad isn’t as clear cut as you realise. Jesus showed a new way to know God that was not based on doing good things or following a set of rules, but was instead about relationship and loving God with your whole heart.
Session 5: A Story You Can Trust
Mark – Chapter 5, verses 21-43
In October last year, a survey was conducted by Ipsos about the levels of trust in the UK. The results were sobering – only 12% of British citizens say that they trust politicians. This is the lowest percentage it has ever been. And, compared to other countries, Britain is now ranked 17th (out of 19 countries in the survey) in terms of how little we trust our government. At such a time of low trust, the accounts of Jesus come like a breath of fresh air. Jesus is trustworthy, even when things don’t happen as we expect. If we trust in Jesus he may ask for more than we had originally planned to give, but he can give to us infinitely more than we dared ask or imagine.
Session 6: A Story That Equips
Mark – Chapter 6, verses 7-13 & verses 30-42
There is a brilliant YouTube video of a little girl trying to hula-hoop. She thinks she’s doing well, but in reality her Dad is stood behind her, holding the hoop! Jesus doesn’t just call us to follow him, he calls us to step out in faith as partners in his mission. We are given his authority to do his work on earth. And as we do so, we discover him right there with us equipping us to join in what he is doing.
Session 7: A Story Of A New Identity
Mark – Chapter 8, verses 31-38
When you meet someone for the first time, how do you describe yourself? What defines you? By going to the cross Jesus lost his identity, so we can have a new identity. When we understand how much Jesus loves us by being willing to die for us, we can find new freedom- our old approach to identity (money, power, relationships, achievements etc) is gone as we find a new identity as a child of God.
Session 8: An Awesome Story
Mark – Chapter 9, verses 2-13
Have you ever had a ‘wow’ moment? When something truly awe-inspiring almost takes your breath away? Mark’s account of Jesus reveals that through Jesus we can come into the presence of God without fear or shame. Wow! Jesus is all we need to focus on and worship is a wonderful way of coming into the presence of Jesus away from the distractions of the world around us.
Session 9: A Generational Story
Mark – Chapter 10, verses 13-16
Jean Twenge, says the following, ‘The breakneck speed of cultural change means that growing up today is a completely different experience from growing up in the 1950s or the 1980s—or even the 2000s.’ One of the striking things about Jesus was the way he treated all generations – his kingdom is an intergenerational kingdom, where young and old learn from – and lead – one another. What would it look like for us to truly understand and live this out today?
Session 10: A Story Of Sacrifice
Mark – Chapter 11, verses 1-24
Everyone loves a story that involves a dramatic sacrifice. Yet, it’s not quite as entertaining when we are the ones who might need to make the sacrifices! Jesus calls people to give him every part of our lives, not Sundays or simply giving the impression that we’re doing ok. What does this look like for us? How do we be resilient followers of Jesus at every stage of life?
Session 11: The End Of The Story
Mark – Chapter 14, verses 12-26 & Chapter 15, verses 33-41
Why is it that we so often associate rescue with the symbol of a cross? Hospitals, pharmacies, aid agencies, lucky necklaces – all characterised by a cross symbol. The cross is the greatest moment in history, where Jesus died. Join us to explore the importance of the cross and why Christians celebrate communion as a result. In his sacrificial death, Jesus was the greatest act of God’s love, power and justice. The ultimate proof of his love for us.
Session 12: The Story Begins
Mark – Chapter 16
Glen Scrivener writes, ‘The resurrection of Jesus is undeniably a miracle. But it’s not a miracle that adds to the absurdity of your world. The resurrection explains what would otherwise be even more absurd.’ The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. We are all given the chance to overcome the greatest enemy of all, and come into a relationship with him now and forever. This world is not the end, death is no longer to be feared.