What’s the Story?
From the Biblical Theology of Mission Class
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman, children’s author
We all like a good story. Not only that, when we stop to think about it, we are all living by one story or another, or a mishmash of different ones… even Philip Pullman, an avowed atheist, would attest to that. Back in 1995, leading British band ‘Oasis’ released their album, ‘What’s the Story? Morning Glory’. The first part of that title is a good question to ask anyone. What story are you living by? Some people will struggle to answer. ‘What do you mean? I’ve no clue what you’re talking about!’ We might well need to press them a bit further with some other questions. ‘Who do you think you are?’ ‘Why is life the way it is?’ ‘How can you be free?’ ‘What can you hope for?’ They might well answer, ‘Hey look, I’m just living, making ends meet, trying to have a good time, trying to be a good person, loving my friends and family, being happy’. Which is one story of course.
What’s the story? Nowadays many people would say that there no longer is the story. We all have our own stories, and the most important thing is to respect each other’s version. Which sounds good, until you realise that that strong focus on tolerance and having a whole range of equally valid stories is itself a story – technically known as Postmodernism.
When we come to the Bible, we soon realise that most of it is written in story-form. Like all good stories it has a beginning (creation and fall), a middle (redemption) and an end (re-creation).It's a story with one author who directs events according to his purpose and plan. And it’s a story of mission, of God’s mission to rescue people, and the whole creation, from the devastating impact of our rebellion against Him.
All very good, we might say, but what does that have to do with me? This big story can feel a long way from me and my daily existence. My little story keeps me busy enough as it is, and when it goes well it gives me more comfort and certainty then something rather distant and mostly involving events that happened a long time ago and in a land far away. Like Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit’, we’d likely much rather stay at home in our snug hole in the ground with our slippers and pipe than go adventuring with Gandalf.
Except this: what if you aren’t really in control of your own story after all? What if, when you look more closely at God’s Big Story from Genesis to Revelation, you realise that it’s a line made up of millions of tiny threads, each one representing the life story of one of God’s people? What if God is authoring you into His story with a unique task for you in his great mission?
What if God is knocking at the door of your comfortable hobbit hole even as you read this?