Learning the Story & Living the Story
As I said the other day, John 3:16 is a summary of the story. The problem is that people who have memorized that summary often think that they now know the whole story. But they don't.
The gospel is such that we don't just need the summary. In fact, the story itself is the whole point. So, we need to learn the story. More than that, we need to learn the story so well that we begin to live the story.
I have three little girls, and they do this sort of thing all the time. They read a fantastic fairy tale and become so taken with it that they live it out -- assigning everyone in our home a role.
I'm not suggesting that the gospel is a fairy tale (though Frederick Buechner does this & he does it really well -- still, he's talking about a whole different context and that's another story -- nevermind -- anyway...). Far from it. If the gospel were a fairy tale, then living it out would just be a stubborn refusal to grow up and live in the "real world".
Rather, the gospel story actually reveals what the "real world" really is. It even goes so far as to show us how to really live in the really real world. It challenges us to consider that other "realities" are half-truths and distortions -- perhaps even outright lies. The story of the gospel presents us with a reality we dared not imagine existed. It is more real, more truthful than our wildest dreams.
Learning this story and living this story is what we might call "growing up". And growing up means learning and living this story more completely every day.