The Story Of The Bible
by Stephen J. Nichols
I’m a morning person and I love to teach classes starting at 7:30 a.m., a challenging hour for college students. I can tell when I’m going to lose them, and I have found that’s always a good place for a story. Any story will work. The drooping eyelids lift and they slowly return to the land of the living. I understand enough about my students to know that they love stories. In fact, we all love a good story.
God has full wisdom and perfect understanding of us. He knows exactly what we need. So he gave us stories. The Bible is one grand story by, from, and, ultimately, about God. What we have stumbled upon here in the Bible is the greatest story of all time. It’s the story of redemption, the story of God calling out and making a people for himself. It is also a true story, the truest of them all. What can be better than that?
Well, there is one thing. The story of the Bible is not only the greatest story and not only the truest story. It is also the only story that makes sense of our lives. To put it another way, the Bible has existential significance. The Bible gives meaning to all our lives and to every inch of our lives. It alone makes sense of what happens to us. The Bible alone makes sense of all the confounding and confusing things we experience.
Stories played a crucial role in ancient cultures. As people gathered around the fire, the older generation would tell stories to the younger. They would tell these stories to entertain—even ancient people had challenges in putting the kids to bed. They would tell these stories to instruct, to explain how various people were to act in the culture, to explain the roles they were to play. And in the telling of these stories they would know of their place in the tribe and their place in the universe. The oral traditions and folklore were transmitting a worldview, a sense of the self. By learning these stories ancient peoples could find their own place in the world. The Bible is far more than an oral tradition, eventually written down, and passed from generation to generation. As we said above, the Bible stands out among all traditions, among all texts, among all stories because it is true.
The Bible is a unique story by a unique Author, God. And because it is God’s story, it is true. And because it is true, it gives us a true account of the world and of our place in it. As we listen to the Bible’s story, we begin to understand where we fit in and how the moments in our lives and the things around us fit together. We begin to make sense of our world and of our lives when we understand the story.
The Bible is a great story. It is a true story. It is the story that makes sense of us, of every moment, whether those moments are utterly confounding or seemingly insignificant.
Taken from Welcome to the Story by Stephen J. Nichols. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.