God’s Love Story
What is the Bible? If someone were to come up to you on the street and ask you this question how would you respond? The answer to this question fundamentally affects the way people practically apply their religion.
Is the Bible a system of theology? Is it a list of rules to live by for those trying to avoid hell? Is it a 7 step system to health and wealth? Or is it something more than what these systems can offer?
Many modern scholars are beginning to realize that the western, “systematized,” framework is inadequate when trying to answer this most basic and simple question. They are understanding the importance of approaching the Bible as a complete story because that is what the Bible is as a whole.
The Bible is God’s love story to his children. It tells us not only about who we are, but more importantly, who God is, about His love, and how He restored a broken relationship. When we are familiar with the story we will gain wisdom in how to grow and live in God’s family.
This “narrative” approach to the Bible starts to unlock the power of the story in a way that transcends any systematic approach. We simply cannot fully understand the New Testament without knowing the background and foundation laid out in the Old. Conversely, we can’t see the types and shadows of the Old Testament if we don’t understand the fulfillment achieved in the New. It’s the difference between a man standing in the paint aisle at Ace Hardware examining each individual color and their potential and a man standing in a museum enjoying a true masterpiece. He doesn’t notice any one color because he is in awe of the painting.
There are many resources available that provide tools for seeing the “bigger picture.” Dr. Peter Enns has published a very short book titled Telling God’s Story, A Parents Guide to Teaching the Bible that is a great primer on reading the Bible as a complete story even if you don’t have children. Another author, N.T. Wright, has written a phenomenal “For Everyone” series of commentaries on the New Testament. All of these books are easy to read, inexpensive, and do a great job of putting the reader into the context of the overall narrative of the Bible.
The Bible certainly has rules and principles to live by, but it is so much more just that. Rules will never be an appropriate foundation for a true relationship. This is why God chose love. The Bible is God’s love story, and perhaps we should approach it as such. If there is any doubt, just ask yourself these questions: What would you rather have your parents write for you, a list of rules or a love story? What would you rather write for your own children?