The Inciting Incident

One of the key elements of stories and storytelling is strong and compelling characters. Some of the best and well-loved stories have characters that are interesting, that make us want to watch them.

By Pastor David Werner

Another important aspect of a good story is the action of the characters: the epic quests, the exciting journeys, and the thrilling adventures. But rarely does a character move without outside influence, they don’t just wake up one morning and decide to have a grand adventure. Typically, something happens to the character to plunge them into the journey: a death, a tragedy, or natural disaster come along that causes them to get moving. Dorothy would have never left Kansas without the tornado. This external force push that moves the character is called an inciting incident.

As we think of our favorite stories, we can identify the inciting incident that gets the plot moving. Even in our own lives we might be able to point to a moment where everything changed. It is a natural cause and effect.

When thinking about the great story ever told, the story of Jesus, there is a clear inciting incident that changed not only the lives of the disciples, but the lives of millions through the ages. That incident is the Resurrection of Jesus. At his crucifixion, the disciples thought it was the end of the story. But on Sunday morning, Jesus rose and set into motion a chain of events that would change the world.

After the Resurrection came Pentecost, the empowering of the Apostles by the Holy Spirit. With that empowerment, they spread the good news of Jesus’ resurrection first in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The effects of the Apostle’s empowerment and actions are felt even today as their efforts in spreading the gospel have reached the farthest reaches of the earth.

The event of the Resurrection, that powerful and wonderful event, is the most pivotal moment the Christian history. The resurrection also leaves us with important questions to answer. Will the Resurrection of Jesus be our inciting incident? Will the fact that Jesus is alive impact our character? Jesus is calling each one of us to be a part of the story he is telling. Will his death on our behalf and resurrection from the dead move us into action?

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