Living in God's Story

By: Joshua Harris - MCS Bible Teacher

     I love stories. Some of my fondest young memories involve curling up with my parents as they read me a book or asking my grandmother to tell me one of her many stories. I craved story, and to this day, if I go too long without reading or hearing a good story, I feel like I am missing something in my life. This is because narrative is an essential part of human culture and experience. We want to know who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. Stories help us answer those questions in profound ways. We don’t simply need to hear the facts, we need to feel it. Stories connect with us at that deeper level, affecting the way we perceive and interact with the world around us. The greatest stories are meant not merely to be heard, but to be inhabited. They become part of our lives.

     God loves stories too. His Word is replete with true accounts of his interactions with human beings across several millennia. Some of these tales inspire us, as in the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing up for God’s truth in the midst of fierce opposition (Daniel 3). Others serve as a stiff warning (Think, for example, of the story of Annanias and Sapphira in Acts 5.). Still others, like the life of David, do both at the same time. We find stories through the Old Testament and the New, even in places we may not expect, such as the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 36-39) and the letters of Paul (e.g. Gal. 1-2). Jesus himself frequently used stories in his teaching in the form of parables. In total, nearly half of the Bible takes the form of narrative and this should alert us to the fact that story matters.

     You will sometimes hear it said that the Bible is God’s instruction manual for life or “basic instructions before leaving earth,” and I understand the sentiment behind those statements. However, such descriptions vastly undersell both the beauty of Scripture and the role it plays in the life of the believer. The Bible is more than a manual that gives rules to live by (though it certainly includes those). If it were, we could simply memorize the rules and then have no further need for reading it. Instead, the Bible takes us on a journey that begins on a cosmic scope with the creation of the world, continues in the garden with the origins of humankind and their tragic fall, and follows the story of God’s people, the Israelites, through whom God promises to bless all nations (Gen. 22:18). The New Testament records the fulfillment of that promise in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the outworking of that revolutionary event in the early church, and finally foretells the end of the age when God will put an end to all evil and suffering. This story, God’s story, is a narrative to inhabit. It’s not just a story to know, it’s the story that changes everything. Through it, we know who we are and why we exist. We learn how we should think, feel, and act. In the process, we come to realize that, contrary to our selfish desires, we are not the main characters of the story. However, we also learn that we do have a role to play and that being a supporting character in God’s grand narrative is no small job. It will require us to immerse ourselves entirely in our roles. An enthralled novel reader may feel like they are so engrossed in their book that they are part of that story, but in the case of a believer reading Scripture, it is actually true. Through reading the Bible, we learn to live out that story in our daily lives. We are not given a script, but rather, like an improv actor, we learn to understand what the story requires of us and we act accordingly.

     These truths dictate the way that I view my calling as a Christian educator. Our mission as teachers at Madison Christian is to immerse both ourselves and our students in God’s story, learning more about who God is and, in light of that, who we are. Only when they inhabit this divine story, will our students truly find purpose, freedom, and flourishing, abundant life.