Within every culture stories are important. How they are told, how they capture the audience and how they let our imaginations unwind. Stories come in many formats whether that’s listening to a story or reading it or even watching it on the big screen. A lot of money goes into cinema and books so that stories can be told and retold across the world. We love stories. We love being gripped by them, plunged into the imaginative world where we become the characters and we embark on the journey with them.
In Planet Narnia (pg18), Michael Ward quotes Edmund Spenser who says you should –
“Surrender ourselves with childlike attention to the mood of the story” and
“It is about enjoying more than contemplating or we will find the whole thing go dead and cold in our hands, because we have stopped living the story”
It’s all about enjoying the story and being captured in the moment so that you feel the story beneath your skin. It’s not about facts or contemplating, but it’s just about enjoying and being swept up into the mood of story.
This made me think. Can we do this with the bible?
I am thinking this because when I read the bible I don’t see a rule book I see a huge story that encompasses the whole book and then I see tiny layers of story that bring the overriding story to life. The main story that sparkles in these 66 books is how our Father God loves his people and is preparing a bride for his son, yet the bride turns out to be a prostitute and runs after idols and worthless things which separate her from the Father, the Father mourns over his sons bride but hope is not lost, the Son comes to earth and dies on the cross allowing her to come back to the Father and thus look forward to the great wedding!
So, it has got me thinking about how we treat the bible because I have had many conversations where I hear people tell me that they find the bible boring and sometimes during preachers/seminars or bible studies it can feel like we are being given instructions on how to be a better Christian. But I think what people want is to be captured by the story again – we have so many shadows of this story across literature and in the movies. Stories of love lost and found, the battle between good and evil, the story of sacrifice and true love. Every story echoes this from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter to Paradise lost. They all echo the true story that the bible displays and wouldn’t it be amazing to draw people into that story through the scriptures?
Sometimes I would love to hear just the scriptures being read and no explanations. A time of just sitting and hearing the scriptures and letting our hearts be warmed by those words and being captured by this story and by Christ who is the hero of this story. I think it would make a difference and I know sometimes we need some explanation and contemplation is very good, but sometimes I just want to hear the story that scripture tells and allow the beauty and the horror and the surprises and the climaxes to draw me to Christ. Otherwise perhaps we can come to a danger where we rip up the scriptures, tearing them out of context and the story, tearing away Christ and try to use it like a rule book on how to live and we find it goes cold and dead in our hands along with our hearts.