There are times where I find it hard to believe that people do not know Abraham’s story, or the sarcasm of Malachi, or the quirky lives of Elijah and Elisha. After years hearing these stories, they’ve become part of my cultural narrative as a backdrop to endless moral lessons and bad puns. And then I learned that not everyone thinks this way. And I began to wonder if these stories were no better than fairy tales, and what kind of power they had in this world. My mind is still catching up to my faith.
The Old Testament is full of stories, and Jesus loved to teach with stories. Images, comparisons, metaphors. Even Paul has one for the church: a tree. Throughout Romans, Paul speaks about the state of a true believer being a heart cleansed by God rather than your nationality. And one is not better than another when God is cleansing all from the same disobedience. It all boils down to one thing: what kind of faith do you have? If you have faith like Abraham, it is as good as if you were a physical descendant, even if you aren’t part of his family (Romans 4). And after all these years of hearing the Jews’ superiority, the Gentiles were getting pretty pleased with themselves. And Paul brings out a story to tie it all together: God had a tree where the Jews flourished. Then they were taken off, and some wild branches (the Gentiles) were grafted in…a process where the new branch is placed into a slit in the tree’s bark and secured there so they will grow together. So if you are a branch that has been grafted, you can’t go around boasting! And its not a competition: when the Jews believe, it will be even better for everyone (Romans 11)!
The story somehow makes more sense. Do not give up on stories: they wrap the mess and confusion of life into parcels we can hold, and they teach deeper truths without barraging us with lessons. And I the more I study, the more I see the Bible as God’s big story of how the world became a mess, and He stepped into it to save us back to life worth living. Wow! That’s a story worth telling, to give hope. We can test it through the worst situations in life, and it will still hold up. So go ahead, tell your stories! Who knows who will be listening.
God, thank You for telling us stories, and speaking to our minds like a puzzle, not just a scientist. God, please help me to trust You, see how Your stories are true, and not stick to my own logic but follow Yours. Thank You for a story that can be told over and over again. Amen.