In living for God’s story you find no better way to live. Notice that I did not say, living your story for God. There is an important difference.
Today, many Christians will say they are looking for God’s purpose for their lives. I have heard this many times, from folks who have been Christians for years. Sometimes, I wonder if they have actually ever read God’s Word. But I have come to realize it’s not simply in the reading of the Bible that makes the difference, but in the comprehending and apprehending of the story it tells that makes all the difference in our lives!
You see, we tend to read the Bible stories, wonderful stories we try to relate to our lives. We look for object lessons we can teach about the heroes, the epics and certainly about Jesus. We teach Bible lessons about peace, hope and love, and teach men about manhood and women about womanhood. Occasionally, we maybe talk about hardship and suffering, I love to talk about Job. We hopefully know that the whole Bible is about God’s redemptive mission through Christ and his offer of salvation.
But we can still miss the story!
Could you imagine watching a movie and only getting a few actions scenes and not the whole plot? What would that do to your movie review? Maybe they were great high intensity scenes like Bruce Willis leaping from the top of a tall office building with a fire hose wrapped around his waist and a few other explosives scenes (okay, I’m dating myself with that comparison). But would you understand the story?
Tragically, that is how we have been taught to read our Bibles.
We systematically isolate stories from Scripture. We may know that the whole Bible is about Jesus from beginning to end but do we truly grasp what that means? It is my experience that we don’t until we actually do. Until the story of the Bible moves from our heads down into our hearts and begins to shape our lives, do we really realize the story we are living in.
In fact, most Christians don’t even know the story we are living in. We know stories from the Story. We know stories about Adam and Eve, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, maybe Joshua and Gideon, David and Solomon, perhaps some of the prophets, hopefully more about Jesus, and maybe something of Paul and Peter. You can read the Bible cover to cover but miss the story, the overarching plot, the meta-narrative.
This great story can, no must, shape our lives. This story give us the greatest purpose for living, brings us the most joy and blessings but it largely goes untold. Because it is untold, most Christians continue to seek for meaning and purpose in their lives, looking everywhere to make sense of their story. Because it goes unknown we look for other ways to give our lives meaning but they all fall short of God’s glorious story.
How do I know that so few know this story, you may be asking? I can’t tell you the number of people who have come to me after they have been introduced to this story and realize that they have missed it, even in all their Bible reading.
I remember one lady who came to me dismayed and said, “I have been in church for 30 years, how come I have never heard this before?” And, it’s not just faithful church attendees who don’t know the story. I had a 30 year veteran missionary of Wycliffe say to me, after coming to understand this story, “I understand now and see my ministry in a whole new light.”
It should come as no surprise that so few Christians actually understand the story of the Bible when only 1 in 10 actually has a Biblical worldview. We don’t know what we don’t know, but once we know it changes everything, if we enter it and live it.
How can we change this all too tragic reality that Christians don’t understand the story we are living in? I know of really only 3 ways at present but perhaps there are some others.
First, the best way I know to understand the story is through the Biblical section of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement study program. I have taken hundreds of students through this missional formation program over the last 6 years and it is eye-opening. Over 150,000 have taken the course nationally in the past 30 years, ranking Perspectives as the number one way to enter this story. There is really nothing else like it available today. I encourage you to take Perspectives, starting again soon at a church near you.
Second, there is a book titled “The Mission of God – Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative,” a 535 page scholarly work by Professor Christopher J.H. Wright, published in 2006. Wright is an Old Testament scholar which explains the length and breadth of his tome. I have no idea how many have read this book, but I can’t imagine it’s to many. It is worth the read, however, if you have the time.
Third, and newest way to understand the story is “Ethnic Embrace USA – Blessing the Nations among Us,” written and just released in print version by yours truly. Sorry, for the shameless self-promotion but I am passionate about communicating this Grand Narrative of Scripture. I wrote this book, a 40 day prayer journey, as an "easy on-ramp" to help people to understand this story, in 40 daily bite-size chunks.
I recently asked a wise pastor friend of mine this question, as we discussed why so many are struggling as Christians: “do you think it is because we don’t understand the story we are living in?” He agreed. If we don’t know the story we are living in, how can we really live the story we are meant to? If we’re not living the story we are meant to, how can we experience the fullest life we’ve been promised?
In 2014, I want to blog more about this great story and how we are called to live in it. I invite you to 'like' my new personal ministry Facebook page – Living Sent Today – to stay connected as we explore this story – what is in fact His-Story!
Live for God’s story in 2014!