We are people of the Story.
As a Christian, one of the things I hold true about the Bible is that it contains the revelation of God to humanity. With each turn of a page, there is something that can be perceived about who this God is. It also tells us the ongoing story of the human species and the nature of reality.
The revelation, however, doesn’t only lie within the contents of the book.
The revelation first falls within the kind of book God had left us with.
What often can be missed—as we rush into the pages of the scriptures—is that whatever truth we claim it teaches, whatever feeling of divine inspiration we glean from it, ultimately comes to us through the form of a Story.
Framed another way: the medium that God chose to communicate to us with is intrinsically meshed in its message. And it tells us something glorious about who God is.
Of all the things God could have left us with—tangible things that could have survived through time, definitive relics where hard flags of divinity can be planted on, like gold plates or stone tablets— God chose to leave us a Story.
While there are well-intentioned metaphors used to describe the Bible, such as Life’s Instruction Manual or The Rule Book For The Game Called Life or a Book Of Theological Teaching, these fall short, for they are not what the book actually is. And while it might be true that the Bible contains instructions for life, and does have a section of rules, while it does have theological assertions, they are firmly rooted within the context of the story it is telling.
A Grand Story is ultimately what the Bible is.
While we believe it is the story of God as He relates to human beings as species, it first has to be viewed through the lens of it being the narrative of God and his relationship with the nation of Israel.
Of all the things God could have left with us, He left us a story. I love that about God.
Stories work differently than manuals, rule books, or statements of faith. They don’t have hard shells. They are penetrable from multiple tangents, and they aren’t coercive.
Stories are invitations to be enthralled and swept away, to get lost in and found in. They aim to move us, inspire us, warn us, and resonate within us a deep hunch about the nature of reality, something true about who we are, something that eventually shapes the way we live.
I imagine God chose this route because in a lot of ways, He, at His core, is a God who invites, a God who isn’t interested in getting us to follow orders and beating us into submission, but One who desires to connect, to reach out, and to woo us.
And there’s more. The story doesn’t drop from the sky as a hardbound book. They start through the sub-stories of men and women, a culture, a people, a nation. All of them wrestling with the God who is trying to reveal to them who they are, what their purpose is, how they’ve lost their story, and how their story can be reclaimed.
Did I say that these were about men and women, culture and nation wrestling with God? Well, that’s what the word Israel means: the one who wrestled with God and overcame. Somehow, God lets them win. A God who is for us, not against us.
And then we get to the contents of the story.
As far as stories go, what a beautiful story it is.
As we go through the pages of this book, what unfolds is a story about connection and communion, which really is another word for love.
If we go back to the Genesis story, we’re faced with this narrative.
God creates man for communion.
But man gives up the connection and loses the power to recover it.
Man falls into chaos, but God doesn’t give up on love.
He works to bring man back into the place of connection.
Creation. Fall. Redemption. This is the triple theme of the meta-narrative, the Grand Story of God.
It is on this backdrop that all our stories are connected. It is upon this foundation that we, too, live out our micro-stories of Birth, Death, and Resurrection. Our cycles of Communion, Disconnection, Reunion.
If the church is anything, it is to be a steward of this narrative. And our heart, as individuals and as a collective, is to be the reincarnation of this Story. To tell and retell in in as many forms and ways as we can, through our words, our art, our actions, our love, and our lives.
This is God’s Story, and inadvertently it is our story as well.