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The Unbelievable Beauty of God’s Story

By Nandi Roszhart
By Rachel Smith
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Bruce Riley
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Amy Owen
By Jill Asibelua
By Madi McGraw
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Alban Snider
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Al Palamara
By Don Robb
By Mike Pope
By Melanie Mechsner
By Kyla Mikusek
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Shannon Lewis
By Chase Studdard
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Tiffany Stein
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Jason Stein
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Scott McClellan
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith

The following is adapted from Ryan Sanders’s new book Unbelievable: Examining the Unlikely Beauty Of the Christian Story. It’s available on Amazon or at www.unbelievablebook.org.

My daughter Bethany is thirteen. It feels like she’s growing up very fast. Recently, she had a field trip to the local high school. After I dropped her off, she stood on the sidewalk surrounded by teenagers and gave me a waist-high secret wave as I drove away. She looked so tall, almost like she belonged there. The high school years are coming fast and it’s hard for daddy to believe. In fact, my wife and I say that often... 

“I can’t believe how big she’s getting!”  

“It’s hard to believe she’s about to finish middle school!”  

“Can you believe she’s wearing my shoes?" 

Of course we do believe it, because we’ve witnessed it. We’ve been there for every one of her thirteen years — almost every day of it — and yet we still say, “I can’t believe it!" 

I think Christian belief is like that. For someone who works, lives and worships close to the gargantuan claims of Christianity, it may be difficult to step back and see the summit. We are prone to wake up one day, look at the sheer magnitude of the claims Jesus made, and, like a parent, say, “Gosh, I can’t believe how big he is!"

C.S. Lewis wrote, “The value of myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the ‘veil of familiarity’…As long as the story lingers in our minds, the real things are more themselves.”

I wrote Unbelievable in hopes of lifting the “veil of familiarity.” I hoped to offer a chance to revisit the most foundational tenets of our belief from a fresh perspective — a scenic overlook to faith.

Unbelievable is an opportunity to step back from the base of Christianity’s mountainous but familiar claims, squint our eyes, and try to take it in. My hope is that this new vantage point will give us a similar appreciation for Jesus and his religion. The appropriate response to a view of Mount Kilimanjaro is not denial but wonder; not doubt but worship. Such is the appropriate response to God’s story. When we examine the unlikely beauty of the stories in our Bibles, we are called to worship. We stand, hands empty, mouth agape, neck craned, and whisper a prayer of wonder. 

Sometimes it seems like we Christians want our neighbors to believe that our message is the most normal, natural, expected thing in the world. But it's not. In fact, it is precisely because the gospel is unexpected, supernatural and unlikely that it is most attractive. What if we stopped trying to make our faith smaller so that it’s easier to accept, and started making it bigger so that it’s harder to ignore? 

In a way, Christians are the UFO junkies of post-renaissance humanity. We are the fanatics, pointing to ancient Jewish writings and saying “See? Don’t you see?” in the same way toothless Appalachians point to blurry pictures of Sasquatch and half-drunk Scots retell second-hand stories about Nessy. Sure, we think our proof is more convincing than theirs, but we have to admit that our claims are no less outlandish. I say it’s time we do so. I say it’s time for Christians to line up alongside sidewalk preachers and conspiracy theorists and birthers and trekkies, and admit to skeptics that our story is every bit as far-fetched as theirs. And then to smile, and kneel, and wash their feet, and prove that it is true.

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