Tell me the old, old story again

Tell me the old, old story again

There is an old chorus called “Tell me the old, old story” which revels in the wonder of being told about the gospel once more. From the perspective of someone who has been a believer for many years, the song expresses that we love to hear it again and again. I love this song, but I fear that too often I don’t get excited enough about hearing the gospel once more.

Easter has just finished for another year. Every Easter, when you go to a Bible-teaching church, you know what the message is going to be on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday. Jesus has died and is risen. Sure, the preacher might put it slightly differently, he might explain the concepts and the implications from a different passage this year, but there is no suspense. You know what you are going to get.

(As an aside, as someone who has preached a lot of Easter sermons, it can be a challenge to come to the Easter messages with fresh eyes and not just say exactly what you did last year!)

I have a friend for whom this Easter is a most exciting time, for this is the first Easter she has experienced as a Christian. Everything is new and exciting, and you can feel the joy roll off her when she sings or speaks of the wonder of the risen Jesus. More jaded, more experienced Christians often don’t feel as strongly as new Christians in general, and in times like Easter in particular.

In one sense, this is not a bad thing. It is just how life is with any relationship. Marriage is a great example of this. Newlyweds behave quite differently to those married for fifty years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that newlyweds are better, or that their relationship is deeper, simply because they feel things more strongly. Relationships that hold up over time deepen and change character as the two parties know one another better and have more experience with one another. Christianity is like that too. Mature Christians have trusted Jesus in good times and bad. They have seen God’s goodness in their times of crisis. Being reminded of God’s gift of Jesus given for us, of the resurrection from the dead that proves it is all true, is encouraging and uplifting even though it doesn’t have the passionate edge to it that we felt when we were younger believers.

We do need to heed a warning here though if Easter is something we care nothing for, if we are disappointed because we will hear the same message again. We must not always chase novelty. We must not always want to hear something new. It is too easy to judge Bible teaching by whether we learnt something new. That’s a bad way to judge it. If you have been well-taught for many years, the reality is that some weeks, probably especially at Easter, you won’t learn anything new. You need to be reminded. You need to be reoriented to see that it is all about Jesus and not about what you do. You need to be encouraged. And you need to think once more through the implications and applications that flow from the gospel.

Tim Chester says some interesting things about this in his recent book “Enjoying God”. He likens this to a marriage, but in a different way. When two people have been married a long time, the relationship is not all about novelty. If the husband tells the wife that he loves her, she doesn’t tell him off because she knows this or has heard it before! We need to be reminded; we need to hear things we already know.

Easter is not always going to tell us something new. It will also point us to what is most important. Don’t get jaded if you hear the same thing again. Be encouraged by the old, old story. You need to hear it once more.