The Story of Scripture
We live in a world of stories. Not only that, but this world is in a story. This is the story Scripture points to and lays out.
From the beginning, the creation account shares God’s vision of shalom -- peace, wholeness, order -- in His creation. This creation was formed and sustained by His word. Not only this, but God breathed His own life -- His word -- into clay forming human life into His image. And God walked with humanity and everything was very good. But a tempter entered and everything changed. Humanity's disobedience to God's life giving word has marred and broken shalom with God and His world. But God enters in to bring grace, peace and hope for restoration. This is humanity’s new drumbeat. In Christ we have a foretaste of peace with God, peace others and the world. We look forward to new creation when all relationships will be made right. Until then, we live between God’s action already in history and not yet seeing it in its fullness.
Like every good story, Scripture has a beginning, middle and an end. Its setting is God’s world. It’s themes of promise, election, exodus, exile, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and mission shape the plot connecting creation and new creation. We read the stories the Spirit of God has given us between these bookends. These stories of brokenness, restoration and flourishing comb Scripture’s pages. These are the stories the biblical authors desired to tell. As we approach Scripture, we must understand it on its own terms. While Scripture lays out the story, we need to see the Bible not just as one large work, but as an anthology. It’s one work comprised of many.
“[The] Bible does not have a carefully plotted single story-line, like, for example a conventional novel. It is a sprawling collection of narratives with much non-narrative material that stands in variety of relationships to the narratives.” - Richard Bauckham
The various genres, stories, and epics in Scripture find themselves in a “sprawling capacious narrative."
The Spirit continues to write these stories today. We’re like letters sent out by the Grand Author Himself. (2 Cor 3:3) While our stories are not the same, the diversity of human experiences ought to be celebrated. Through a collection of various stories of God’s work, our vision of His character and work expands our imagination. We’re reminded of the necessity of one another's narratives to know the love of Christ. (Eph 3:18-19) This reminds us God is always bigger than us and compels us further into joyful mission, as we remember His call to go with His story to our neighbors all the nations.
“Stories are the most prominent biblical way of helping us see ourselves in ‘the God story,’ which always gets around to the story of God making and saving us.”- Eugene Peterson