On my homepage I suggested that as we live and work, each of us chooses to live within a certain context – a certain story – that shapes our lives.
There are a lot of stories that people choose to live within. Some choose a story with the title “Why does everything go wrong for me?” Those who live within this story tend to see themselves as victims of the circumstances of their lives, responding to the circumstances of life accordingly. Another common story might be titled the “Survivor” story. Those who adopt this story have often experienced the world as a dangerous and unpredictable place, responding by minimizing risk, doing what they can to protect themselves from harm, even other people. Some choose the “Special Relationship” story. They move from relationship to relationship hoping to find that “special someone” who will finally bring them happiness. There are many, many other stories. Sometimes we choose our own story; sometimes we allow others (often parents or friends) to choose a story for us. Either way, we live our lives in that story.
Sometimes our stories “read” well, but at times (if we are honest) our stories seem incomplete, as if they are not supplying all the answers we need for living well. When our stories fail us, we may find ourselves in search for another story or perhaps a “bigger” story, one that is more complete and more able to deal with the realities of life.
I noted on my homepage that I made a choice a long time ago to live my life within the Christian Story, a story that I have found to be wholly adequate in every respect. Without elaborating on the story itself too much in this post, I’d simply like to note that the Christian Story addresses the main questions of life:
“Where are we?”
We live our lives in the midst of God’s good creation*, where his glory, power, wisdom, beauty, and love are evident. We live in an inherently good place, although some things have clearly gone wrong (read further below.)
“Who are we?”
We are God’s people because we are part of his world. As such, we are the recipients of his provision, care, and love (whether or not we realize or presently experience this.)
“What has gone wrong?”
Clearly the world around us is not as it should be; and all is not right within us either. Whatever has gone wrong deeply affects our lives as much, if not more, than the world in which we live. Things went wrong when we though we knew better than God now to run the world, our lives, and the lives of others. We chose to break our relationship with God, going our own ways, now suffering the consequences of that broken relationship. We need to know what can be done about this.
“What is the solution?”
Because we are unable to repair the broken relationship (just think about the history of the world), God himself has taken the initiative in restoring our relationship to himself and will at some point renew and restore all things, including his good creation. The Christian Story is the story about how God is working out the solution.
The overall plot of the Story awaits another post, but I conclude this post with a quote from scholar N.T. Wright who has this to say about the Story and the book that contains it:
“It’s a big book, full of big stories with big characters. They have big ideas (not least about themselves) and make big mistakes. Itʼs about God and greed and grace; about life, lust, laughter, and loneliness. Itʼs about birth, beginnings, and betrayal; about siblings, squabbles, and sex; about power and prayer and prison and passion … And thatʼs only Genesis [the first book of the Bible].” Quoted from N.T. Wright in his book “Simply Christian.”
*Note (for the moment) that the phrase “God’s good creation” does not imply anything about how the things we see came into being. It says nothing about the process. It does mean that in the world around us we see evidence of a God and his handiwork which is inherently and visibly good and beautiful, even if it doesn’t always look that way at the present time.