The Story

Have you ever wondered why Jesus so often taught in parables?

Eugene Peterson wrote:

… if we want to change our way of life, acquiring the right image is far more important than diligently exercising willpower.[1] Willpower is a notoriously sputtery engine on which to rely for internal energy, but a right image silently and inexorably pulls us into its field of reality, which is also a field of energy.[2]

A story paints a picture. If it is true that “willpower is a notoriously sputtery engine,” (to this I think we can all attest) but that the right image or vision contains an inherent power to cause change, then painting pictures with words, or to say it another way—to tell stories, is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do when it comes to transforming our lives, and indeed, the world.

It should not surprise us that Jesus knew this! Viva storytelling!!!

The insistent argument of post-modernism is that there is no Grand Story that makes sense of the world. The late Robert E. Webber, Myers Professor of Ministry at Northern Seminary in Illinois, and founder of the Institute for Worship Studies, was a prolific author. His final book—literally dictated from his deathbed—is titled Who Gets to Narrate the World?.

Dr. Webber considered this question to be the most pressing spiritual issue of our time.[3] Webber believed that Christianity in America will not survive if Christians are not rooted in and informed by the uniquely Christian story that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wherever there has been conflict in the world—throughout history—it has been as a result of conflicting stories meeting head-on. In days past, this happened relatively rarely, but in today’s highly mobile society, where the views of any obscure philosophy are only a google-search away, competing stories are colliding at an unprecedented rate. Will we teach our children to cope with this new reality by giving them to understand that Jesus is “the way for me” or that He is “the way, the truth, and the life”?

This may come as a surprise, but the answer to that question will be determined by storytelling; by whether we do it, by whether we do it convincingly, and by whether we live in accordance with the story we say we believe—by whether we do it well.

My passion is to tell the story of the gospel—God’s narrative as told in Scripture—in a manner that makes it leap from the pages into our lives! Too often we consider the Scriptures theology to be studied (and it is), principles to follow (most certainly it is), maxims to remember, or archaic stories of people who lived long ago in a situation far removed from ours, and who found solutions little relating to the predicaments of today. May it never be so!

The Scriptures are not just a collection of stories, but a meta-narrative, an over-arching tale that gives meaning, purpose, and sustenance to our lives. It tells us our place in history, our role in society, the hope of our future, and the way we should “walk” today (Eph. 2:10).

If it is true that the road to the future lies in the past, it is also true that when the past has been lost or neglected there is no certain future.[4]

R.C. Sproul has said that “truth is reality as God perceives it.” Let’s make sure our children understand the world according to the story that God tells.

[1] Hauerwas, Stanley. Vision and Virtue (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981) p.2

[2] Peterson, Eugene. Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992) p. 6

[3] Webber, Robert. Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008) p. 16

[4] Ibid

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