Last Tuesday in our time together we heard the word STORY quite a bit. It’s there in the subtitle of our book: A Bible Study on the Bible’s Story.
What do you think of when you hear the word “story?” Several years ago, I taught two-year-olds as a member of a Bible study class. In our training, we were encouraged NOT to use the word “story” so we wouldn’t confuse these little ones. “Stories,” to two-year-olds, are most often fun, fictional tales accompanied by bright illustrations, aren’t they? They’re often outlandish or silly. And, of course, they’re not true.
While scripture does present us with a story, I assure you that everything we find in its pages is true. Referring to scripture as a story does not cast a shadow on its reliability as truth, but points us toward the fact that it presents us with a narrative arc. When we first learned to write stories, our teachers taught us they had to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Further along in our education, we might have learned a more sophisticated version of this general structure. Simply stated, this included exposition, complication or conflict, rising action, climax, and conclusion. I’m sure you can see where I’m headed with this. While scripture is no work of fiction, it is indeed a story in the highest and truest sense. It has all the essential elements, and the knowing the grand story of scripture gives us a framework for understanding how the varied books, authors, and genres we encounter within it contribute to the big picture. It also shows us that scripture, by design, has a purpose, and a point! It isn’t just a random collection of varied writings of different genres by a group of people separated by time and space.
We talked a bit yesterday about how knowing the story gives us much-needed perspective. I can follow the turn-by-turn directions of a GPS, but they make a lot more sense to me if I’ve consulted Google Maps and checked out the satellite view of my route ahead of time. I can put together the pieces of a puzzle, but I MUCH prefer to do so with the picture on the lid as a reference! Whether this is our first experience learning the meta-narrative of scripture or a refresher course, each of us will benefit, I’m sure, from a studied consideration of God’s story. As Christians, such perspective is essential, because this is not only God’s story, but OUR story, as well.
I appreciate Courtney Doctor’s words from her video introduction, reminding us that our part in this story is not performance, but faithful participation. Using the words of author and seminary professor Michael D. Williams, she encouraged us to realize that we are heirs of the story, actors in it, and bearers of it.
With her, my prayer is that through this study we will…
-love scripture more
-see more clearly our purpose in God’s plan
-be captivated by the love of our Heavenly Father, and
-respond to God’s gracious and lavish affection with increased love and faith
As I might have said to those little ones many years ago, “This is God’s word. Everything in it is true.”
I hope you enjoy your first week of study, and are blessed as you lean into the work of understanding the true word of our infinite, inexhaustible God as He has revealed himself to us.