Sunday, October 26, 2008

Story


I've often wondered what makes Christianity so appealing to some people and not to others. Why is it so exciting for me, yet others can think it boring, outdated, and even silly?

I remember as a child reading great stories. I loved reading the Hardy Boys. In elementary school I spent countless hours reading during class when I should have been listening. It all seemed so exciting to me, full of mystery and meaning. All stories were exciting. I remember thinking after every movie I saw as a child, "That was the best movie I've ever seen."

Most of us love stories. It must be somehow hard-wired into us to love them. At church I love to watch the audience during a sermon instead of the preacher (sorry). People get distracted, look around, talk, and even sleep when the preacher talks about abstract concepts and ideas. But when he tells a story... well, that's different. Everyone perks up. Just this last Sunday I watched as every face in the audience was glued to the preacher as he was telling a story. Weird. It's not like people are bad Christians because they love stories rather than ideas.

I'm not sure I completely understand why God built this in us. But read the Bible. How much is told in story? Almost all of it. Each Gospel is a recording of Jesus' life, and we can all connect to that.

In Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller points out that we all have the elements of story built into us as making sense. In every story there's an introduction where the characters are introduced: in the Bible it's God, Satan, and man. Then the conflict is brought in early: Satan perverts good into badness and thus the protagonist (man) is thrown into an eternal struggle of whether He will follow the invisible God rather than his visible pleasures.

After this comes the rising of the conflict which rises until the ultimate climax. In this case the rising is the Old Testament with nations rising and falling in trusting God or not trusting Him. All the while God is teaching them that this isn't working, that something else must be done. A price must be paid.

Then, in the midst of great expectation, the author surprises everybody. God Himself comes down from Heaven as a human being, born in a feed trough. This God is called Jesus and lives among them as a brother, perfectly. He is the Great Picture. Unknown to most who see Him, He shows them what real love looks like in every move He makes. And then another surprise: Tragedy strikes.

The hero is tortured and killed. Everyone thinks the hero has lost, including the Enemy. But with a great twist the hero rises again, starting a New World Order which is to be followed until the end of time. This is the resolution of the Great Story, and we're all living in it. It has the promise of the main characters living "happily ever after" with the hero if they choose to, or the opposite if they refuse.

I love this Story. It makes sense to me, down in my bones it makes sense. Every good story has these elements in it. Why? Because they point to the bigger story: reality.

The Bible isn't a law book with formulas, while laws are contained within it. It's story describing Life as God made it. He wants us heart, mind and all. I love that. It excites me more than Lord of the Rings or any other story, because I get to take part in it. This great plot intercedes with my own. I wish so badly that others understood it for it's beauty, and I pray God may open their eyes before their own story ends.

So many things in this Earth can serve as distractions, but we should instead turn them into shadows. Shadows always point to something else. Something bigger. Everything good in this life points us to God, His love, beauty, and His perfection, because He is the author of it all.

4 comments:

brettincasie said...

I like that, turning distractions into shadows. Interesting. And about stories, good songs are like that too, into, building up to climax, then the end. It really is ingrained in us. :)

doug young said...

Eugene Peterson speaks to what you mention in your note in a number of his books. The power of the story is amazing, and God uses it to draw us to him through his word.

Good stuff as usual!

Joshua Tucker said...

Brettin - Songs are like that too, I didn't think about that. Thanks for the comment and it was good to see you for a bit last week.

Doug - I've never read a book by Eugene Peterson (other than the Message), but now I want to. It's so neat that God can use stories like that, what comes to mind for me is The Chronicles of Narnia too. Thanks for commenting.

alisha dawn said...

What a beautiful reminder of how great God's plan is.
That excites me to want to read the Bible more. Thanks!