The Table’s Church Planting Resident, Justin Chappell, will be leading us in our next sermon series, starting November 4th: “God’s Story.” The graphic above (courtesy of Danny Rankin) is an abstract depiction of the 4 “acts” or “chapters” of that historical narrative. Here Justin describes how a deeper understanding of God’s grand, true, and redemptive drama gives life, hope, and meaning to our own stories…
While writing this blog post in a public space, I overheard a nearby conversation. It was two women that seemed like they just met. And as you’d normally do when you first meet someone, you share your story. You give context to who you are today, give examples of your favorite things, share the motivation behind your work, build bridges over shared experiences, and dream about future endeavors. That’s what was happening. And then I heard, “I want this to make a difference – to help make things better!” At the risk of moving from “guy that overheard small conversation bits” to “weird eavesdropping guy that was documenting a stranger’s conversation” I wasn’t able to make out what it was that motivated that comment. But the comment could have easily been inserted into any of the other conversations going on around me. In this comment was both an experience and a belief. An experience that says something isn’t right, that something is not the way it should be; and a belief that it can be different, even better. If we listen closely enough to the stories we often tell, we’d likely recognize this same theme: things aren’t the way they seem they should be, and we’re hopeful there’s a way to improve the broken realities of life.
Fundamental to our stories is pain, deferred hope, disappointment, and countless other examples of things that just seem broken. And many of these stories are rooted in a fundamental belief that this is not the way it’s supposed to be – that we can do something about it. We look at political corruption and decry its effects, becoming ambassadors for candidates with greater promise. We experience racial and social injustice and become advocates for greater human dignity. We look back at our imperfect childhoods and promise to not make the same mistakes our parents made. In each of these, the resolve is rooted in the hope for something better. This is good. But how do we make sense of why things are the way they are? And how do we have any confidence in our version of a solution?
Interestingly, the Bible is telling a very similar story to the stories we tell. It’s filled with countless examples of brokenness; narcissism, racism, adultery, murder, just to name a few. But beyond simply highlighting things that aren’t the way they seem they should be, it gives context for why things are this way. And then it gives us hope for something better. This hope is not rooted in a future, self-authored solution - it’s embedded into our original design. It’s a hope that tells the truth about why things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be; it’s a hope authored by God himself. In this way, the Bible doesn’t just tell a similar story to our own, it’s the Story that gives meaning and purpose (and hope!) to all of our stories.
For most of us, we find it hard to make sense of the Bible. The stories seem disconnected, and the ones that aren’t disconnected seem contradictory. We need context. We need perspective. We need to explore the larger narrative (drama!) of the Bible. Join us for the month of November to explore this larger Story that God is telling through all the Bible. And bring your questions!