Introducing: The Big Story
Have you ever had a moment when you’ve asked for directions? You’ve received a long, complicated set of instructions: “go left, take the second right, two more lefts and then take the fourth street on the right…or was it the fifth?” Bear with me, assume your phone with Google Maps and GPS at the ready is out of battery!
What we really need when we’re lost is not a set of instructions, that should we take one wrong instruction at some point leaves us in completely the wrong destination, but a map! We need to see the whole journey mapped out in front of us, to find our place on it and look out for the helpful landmarks.
Believe it or not, this is not that dissimilar from reading the Bible.
The Bible is not just a book of rules, instructions or quotations but one big story. Until we understand the overarching narrative of scripture and how it all fits together, we’ll all too often find ourselves taking verses out of their context, struggle to reconcile seeming contradictions and camp out in the safety of our favourite passages.
To understand the Bible we have to recognise that this book is made up of 66 different books, written by different authors in different genres of writing. But we also have to realise that it is nonetheless written by ONE author, the living God, inspiring and drawing it all together into one consistent narrative. It’s a story that starts in the beginning (Genesis means beginning!), unfolds the purposes of God in the world through his chosen people, through their successes, failures, ups and downs, climaxes in the revelation and redemption of God in Christ in the gospels, the impact this has in the years following and ultimately looks forward to how it’s all going to conclude in a happy ending. Beginning, middle and end. Setting, conflict, climax, and resolution.
This story helps us make sense of our world. It’s the story of the whole universe from where it came to where it’s going. It’s cosmic in scope, it is world history, and it explains the meaning of life.
This story helps us understand the Bible. We understand why Christianity took the shape it did in the first century and why ancient Judaism is so important. We see how everything points to Jesus, ‘every story whispers His name’ as a brilliant children’s Bible storybook tells us.*
This story invites us to live for something bigger than ourselves. Think of a favourite inspiring film – perhaps Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Hunger Games and their lead characters Frodo, Luke, Katniss. We are hardwired to be drawn to great stories of adventure, purpose and redemption, they inspire, not just entertain. The Bible’s narrative invites us to play our part in the big story.
Want to find out more about how it all fits together, read the rest of this series!
Part 1: God’s creation
Part 2: God’s people
Part 3: God’s kingdom
Part 4: God’s prophets
Part 5: God’s Son
Part 6: God’s Church
*The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones is incredible, definitely not just for kids, it is beautiful.