A typical Sunday afternoon dinner at our house goes something like this. One of my boys says, “Dad, mom, tell us a story.” We then recount some imaginative or interesting experience from our childhood. Those stories connect our remembered past with the current lives of our children.
It is through stories that we relate to one another, make sense of life, and help identify our place in the world. Stories sell. See the MCU and the recent movies that have made billions based on comic book stories. See the timeless tales written in books like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or the Harry Potter series.
Stories are not new. The Bible is made up of a variety of genres: history, prophecy, poetry, teaching, law, epistles, and narrative. Narratives are stories. Much of the Bible comes to us in the form of story. As a story the Bible connects us to God, to one another, and invites us to participate in a narrative that is grander than the sum of our individual lives.
A Jewish description of the importance of story helps us grasp why God chose to reveal himself through the medium of story:
“Truth naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the villagers’ doors and was readily welcomed into the people’s houses. They invited her to eat at their table and warm herself by their fire.”Annette Simmons, The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 27.
In the story of God found in the Bible, God reveals himself to us through narratives. The beauty of God’s revelation is that we can connect to his story because he came down in Christ to relate to us. God’s story can be seen in the four episodes of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.
In Creation, God reveals that he is and that he created all things. He created us in his image so we could know him.
In the Fall, God judges the sin of Adam and Eve when they broke his law by eating the forbidden fruit. The Fall explains why the world is in the sinful and selfish condition it is in.
In Redemption, God rescues his people. His perfect redemption is foreshadowed in the Old Testament stories of rescue and declared in Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection.
In Restoration, God will make all things new and restore the perfect glory and purpose of his creation. Things will not be forever in sin and separation because God will restore.
Too often we get caught up in the details of our lives and focus time, energy, efforts, and worry on things that don’t really matter.Tweet
In other words, we allow our small stories to dominate our thinking. God invites us to have an eternal story. When we follow Jesus, we enter into
As we live out our lives as followers of Jesus who lead others to follow Jesus, our stories take on a permanent dimension.
The next time you read a Bible story, consider how God might have you join his story of redemption.