“I have always felt life first as a story – and if there is a story, there is a story teller.” G.K. Chesterton
Life doesn’t come to us as a math problem. It comes to us the way that a story comes, scene by scene. What will happen next? You and I don’t get to know those specifics of our lives; we just enter in and take the journey as it comes. We humans have lingering questions. Who am I really? Why am I here? Where do I find the meaning of my life? What does God want of me? Sometimes it feels like a movie that we’ve arrived at 45 minutes late. Interesting stuff, but I don’t get it! To know the answers, we must engage with the story teller, we must see the bigger picture.
Science does not provide the answers we need. Far too many scientists (not all to be sure) say the answer to the question “How did it all begin?” is “An accident.” To the question “How will it all end?” they repeat themselves, “Probably by another accident.” And we sigh, thinking that doesn’t feel like a life worth living; knowing there must be a better answer than that.
Then we go to the movies and watch what on the surface appears to be a secular story, but it is interesting how it plays out. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” In all such stories, we see a similar theme. There is love, adventure, danger, a hero, an evil adversary, sacrifice is required, odds that seem insurmountable, and yet in the end the hero is victorious! Ever notice how such themes are common in movies, yet depict a scenario so similar to the picture the Bible paints? Wonder why that is?
The Sound of Music, Braveheart, Gladiator, Rocky, The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, etc. On and on we could go with movies that tell the Bible story, they just don’t use the Bible characters. A positive scene with peace, then something goes wrong, there is an evil person who wants to hurt the protagonists, things seem desperate, a battle is fought, and the hero must overcome many obstacles to win the day and restore peace. Isn’t that the Bible story? Hollywood preaches this over and over without even realizing the parallel. All such stories have the same basic structure because these stories borrow from the Larger Story of life. Use this as a teaching tool with your kids as you watch movies.
Maybe we can learn from Hollywood how to better position ourselves for life’s story. Not religion as usual, just going to church on Sunday with proper manners. Religion is often man’s attempt to find God, but with Christianity we find God’s attempt to find man (you and me) through Christ. That relationship and what it means defines our part in the story. Do we side with the evil one, or with the hero? To wade into the muddy water in-between puts us in danger. But we play a part in this story, to be sure. “Going to church” is a piece of it, we sure aren’t super heroes, so we need encouragement and resources.
And we finally realize that the only person who can properly define this story is the author himself. Wouldn’t it be something if he wrote it all down for us to read, to study, to learn from and work from? “I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?” says Sam to Frodo in Lord of the Rings. I wonder.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1) A hero has arrived; read of him and learn the true story.