#4 – THE BIBLE AS GOD’S GRAND STORY
The Bible is God’s Grand Story of his dealings within history — the grand metanarrative of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. We are all characters within God’s unfolding plot, playing supporting roles that either further the divine Author’s purposes or rebel against them. As I have often said, our primary posture toward God is one of humble submission to the His goals for his story and an eagerness to find our role within its pages.
Many, however, have disregarded the basic “narrative structure” of the Bible, refusing to read it as story. Clark Pinnock says it well:
“Even though the Bible is basically a storybook, theology has not bothered to orient itself in that way. It has preferred to play intellectual games and to adopt a rational order for itself, with the result that the story remains in the background as a presupposition that does not call the shots. Theology has been enamored by the rationalist ideal on the (dubious) assumption that people are basically rational beings who need to be appealed to with abstract arguments. This is not only untrue in relation to people, it refuses to take seriously the plain fact that in Christianity truth is in the story.”
Not only does this deny the narrative form of the Scriptures, it fails to see that humans all tell ourselves a particular story in order to make sense of our lives and interpret reality. N. T. Wright argues that stories are a “fundamental characteristic of worldviews”, which he broadly defines as “the basic stuff of human existence, the lens through which the world is seen, the blueprint for how one should live in it, and above all the sense of identity and place which enables human beings to be what they are.”
As John Eldredge notes in his small book Epic,
“Life doesn’t come to us like a math problem. It comes to us the way a story does, scene by scene… Each day has a beginning and an end. There are all sorts of characters, all sorts of settings. A year goes by like a chapter from a novel. Sometimes it feels like a tragedy. Sometimes like a comedy. Most of it feels like a soap opera. Whatever happens, it’s a story through and through.”
Yes, we are all living our lives within some controlling story — whether we are conscious of it or not. The task of the Christian is to let the Holy Scriptures become the Grand Story that gives shape to all of our hopes, dreams, fears and purposes. We are not here by random chance, sentenced to live out a meaningless existence with no ultimate goal. We are much like Sam and Frodo, the two hobbits in The Lord of the Rings who have been struggling along for quite a while on their journey. They are exhausted, confused and desperately searching for direction and hope when Sam asks the million-dollar question: “Frodo, I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”
While the Bible can provide us with answers to our theological questions, give us practical tips for holy living, invite us into the glorious presence of the Holy God and draw us into worship and wonder, and much more; the Bible is first and foremost God’s Grand Story being written on the pages of history, with several of the most important chapters already written. Yet, we, the church, are called to live in the next great Act, to find our place within the present-day activity of the Living God, to join with other supporting actors in seeing God’s intended goals realized by partnering with God in the name of Jesus by the power the Holy Spirit.
How does the reader appropriately respond when confronted by God’s Story? Answer: They put down the pen with which they have thus far been attempting to author their own life story, and humbly step into a way of life that has relinquished all attempts at self-definition to instead find their life’s true meaning and purpose from their role in God’s much larger, more significant Plot.
Let’s not get caught being passive observers. We have a role to play in God’s Story. Go ahead and turn the page — if you dare.