Our Stories, Uncut

A post by Protege Staff Member, Ben Sheppard

You’re probably familiar with the concept of a “director’s cut.”  A film director usually has to leave some of the scenes they shoot out of the version that gets shown in theaters. Scenes are usually cut to shorten the movie’s running time. Movie studios prefer their movies to be as short as possible, both to keep audiences’ attention and so that they can pack in as many showings as possible per day. Occasionally, a director gets the chance to release a “director’s cut,” where they add those lost scenes back in and restore their original vision for the film.

If you asked a director, they’d probably break it down like this. Directors are artists, trying to tell deep and meaningful stories through movies. Studio executives are money-grubbing Philistines in business suits who couldn’t care less about art or craft and couldn’t care more about the bottom line. Directors try to tell good stories; executives try to sell marketable products.

Here at Christ Community Church, we want to tell stories about God and what he’s done in our lives. Each of us is the director of our life story, taking our sum total of experiences and shaping them into something meaningful that we can share with others. But we’re also studio executives: more often than not, presenting a “marketable product” is more important than telling a true story. We want to share an attractive version of our life story, one we can “sell” to others. Whether for people inside or outside the church, we revise our own stories because we’re afraid of how people will respond to the “unedited” version of our lives.

It’s great to tell our stories, but if they’ve been edited for marketability, they lose their power. We need to tell our stories “uncut.” Most of us aren’t prepared to share our uncut stories in large gatherings, or on a blog, or even in small groups. If we’re going to be honest with others at all, it’s going to be in the context of close relationships with one or two people. Your Fight Club is a great place to share your uncut story, and if you can create a culture of honesty and vulnerability among two or three people, then we’re on our way toward building a culture of truth and grace in our church as a whole.

I’ve found that when I share my uncut story with other people, it gets easier to acknowledge that God has always known my whole story and has never stopped loving me. I don’t have to “sell” anything to God. And when you and I live out uncut stories before God and in our church, it enables people around us to see the real way a real God changes real lives: not by taking out the parts we don’t like, but by restoring them and weaving them into a new “cut” better than any we could create on our own.

Grace, truth & peace, Ben

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