The Christian education in many churches and homes teaches the stories found in scripture. We are introduced to individual stories, or lots of them anyway (there are hundreds of individual stories and vignettes in scripture), along with dozens of the main characters.<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" alt="" role="presentation" aria-hidden="true" src="data:image/svg+xml;charset=utf-8,” style=”max-width: 100%; display: block !important;”>
But too often what we don’t know is THE story. The Bible isn’t just a collection of great stories (and it is!), it is primarily a story that has a beginning, middle, and an end. For instance, it wasn’t until college that I realized the David who killed Goliath as a wily kid was the same David who grew up to become King of Israel. No one had ever told me David’s whole story, just stories about him. Only in seeing the whole story can the single stories about David be transformed from stories about heroes to THE story of God redeeming people. This is so not just about David, but the entire Bible: it tells one story, the story of God’s interaction with people.
What’s truly astonishing about the Bible is not that it is just one story. Oh no! The most fantastic feature of the Bible is that it proves to be our story. We are characters in the ongoing story of God reconciling the world to itself and the divine. We are invited to participate in the greatest story ever lived, to stand beside Abraham and Sarah, Peter, Mary, and Martha as participants in the unfolding plan of God. Some have likened “God’s story” to a play in 4 Acts. Act 1 highlights the story before Jesus; Act 2 is the climax of the story in Jesus of Nazareth; we’re characters living in Act 3; and Act 4 is the fulfillment of all God’s dreams for his creation. It is a story whose end is yet to come.
So, how does Scripture function in the Christian life? It invites us in to God’s story, to see ourselves and our own lives as the story of the people of God. My story, our story, is God’s story! Michele Hershberger, Professor of Bible at Hesston College, says it this way: “Choose God’s Story as your own. Out of all the ways of understanding who we are and why we are, we choose the Story of how God has been loving and drawing us through Jesus Christ. This story now defines our identity and our way of looking at the world. We ‘believe’ Jesus (God’s Story, Our Story: Exploring Christian Faith and Life, pg 112).”
When we see God’s story as our own, the Bible begins to read and interpret us. This is the story that reveals us as we truly are, and as we were from the beginning intended to be. Likewise, this story that reveals the world as it truly is, and as it is intended to be. In other words, it becomes our guide and source book. It no longer describes the actions and beliefs of people back then. Instead it describes the actions and beliefs of us today. As Hershberger has said many times, “Jesus meant what he said, and he was talking to us.” Jesus’ call for the disciples to “follow me” is God’s call on our lives. When Jesus said in Acts 1 “you will be my witnesses,” he is looking right at us. When he said “come to me all that are weary and I will give you rest,” he’s thinking about your tiredness and need for care. And when Paul says “we are ambassadors for Christ…working together with God,” he’s thinking about how gifted you are to join God’s mission.