Monday, December 3, 2012

Telling the True Stories

Recently, this quote from Doug Wilson's "God Rest Ye Merry" jumped off a page at me. It is so good that I must pass it on:
Stories organize our lives, and the stories that won't or can't do that are false stories. The stories that orient us, that place us back where we should have been, the stories that bring redemption, are called true stories. They go by other names if you listen to tellers of false stories-legends, lies, myths, fairy stories. But true stories have authority to overcome the envious carping of adversary.  
This is especially true of the true story. The first man and woman were placed by God in a glorious garden, and given the earth as their inheritance. They were told to stay away from one tree-for the time being-and when the serpent worm entered the garden and lied to them, they gave way to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. They, like all of us with them, fell into darkness and confusion apart from the life of God, and were expelled from the garden. Since that time, in the darkness outside that garden, as we have told one another stories, they have all centered on some way or other of getting back into the garden-but it never seems to work. 
God Rest Ye Merry, Douglas Wilson, pg 112-113
With that said, we all need to be reading good books, watching good movies and telling good stories (Truth told, we should be the ones writing the books, making the movies and making up the stories). As I read my Bible, I am reminded that Jesus himself spoke in parables. Picture that! The Truth himself told true stories. Some of Jesus's stories are from the Old Testament, some are from heaven above, some are from observation and some may have been made up on the spot (Reread the story of the Good Samaritan see if it doesn't read that way). Following his example always puts us in his good company.

I would say that the only way our story will make any sense and have any lasting value is if it intersects with His story. That story is the gospel, which any story of decent or redeemable value will have some connection with. If you do not know Christ personally and haven't been forgiven of your sins, stop and read this concise gospel presentation. The gospel isn't just a good story it is the story and if you are to have eternal life, it must become yours. If you already have true faith and belief in Jesus Christ, reread it.

Everyone who bears the scars of the fall needs the true stories to help us reconnect with the True story, and that would be Christ and his gospel. The Lord knows we have all had far too much of the false stories, some of which will haunt us the rest of our days. But even still, the followers of Christ can confidently claim, that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. But you have to be part of his story to be able to say that.

Now I do recognize the variance between the biblical gospel and a simple story that merely points to true aspects of that gospel. No doubt, like John Bunyan of old said, we do need to be a people of one book, the Bible. Nevertheless, I, along with the apostle Paul, say bring me books anyway because scripture is the lens by which I view them. So read away, student of the Bible! Thomas Chalmers once stated that reading was moral illumination.  As long as we understand that in an assistive and not a determinative fashion, then I would say that Chalmers is spot on.

With that said, I am reminded how I need to reconnect myself with a good story. I was recently challenged by my son, Blake, to read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Exactly like his grandfather, Blake is officially reading circles around me these days. Now I want you to know that I do read stuff: Newspapers, emails, travel sites, my Bible, far too much Craigslist items, etc. But for someone who takes in information like Eustace in his pre-dragon state, I've a long way to go with fiction. For those of my friends who take issues with allegory or alternate fictional universes, I can relate to you because I used to be one of you.  I empathize with you, but do so without sympathy. Because, like me, you need to change as well. Reading theology alone can lead you directly into theological error. Why? Because you can end up trusting far too much in your own sensibilities and reason of scripture than scripture and Christ alone. I know it sounds crazy, but a decent book of fiction can support your effort of not shipwrecking your faith. Have an open mind toward books with stories that may help you understand your theology better and worship the Lord in a way you didn't previously think possible.

Nevertheless, like Bilbo Baggins, my quest has begun! And, I make no comment about being motivated by a certain film release date encouraging this effort. Nope, no motivation whatsoever. Nothing to see here. As you were. Tolle Legge. Shine in Darkness.

Would you believe that growing up I chose Sports Illustrated and encyclopedias over this!?!

PS-For those interested, my old blogspot is now accessible.  It needed to go away for awhile.

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