Stories are powerful.
Unfortunately, that is not a logical conclusion. That’s just how stories are. Like music, we don’t have to understand the physiology of stories on our brains to declare their power. Stories don’t try to convince you, argue with you, reason with you. Good stories don’t tell you, they simply show you. They invade your reservations, assault your convictions and barge into your conscience like a bandit. Stories are just that, powerful.
The most compelling way to teach something is to tell a story about it. Want to teach about patience? Just tell a story about a patient person. Want to explain love? Illustrate it in story. That’s why the fables we heard as children still linger in our memories.
Bedtime stories were not just entertainment, they were life-lessons.
Yet, this overwhelming power is also what makes stories so dangerous. A false story is powerfully destructive. Stories of proud men winning, and selfish women ruling are powerful tools. You see, since the power of stories is irrational, you cannot argue against a story.
You may present a thousand arguments against miracles, but one story about one miracle topples them all.
Stories are sacred.
The Bible is a story, a book of stories, but it is more than a story. Within the story are timeless teachings and commands and aims and purposes. But the reality of those commands is not found in the stories of the Bible. Abraham is not a consistent picture of faith. David is not a consistent illustration of a man after God’s heart. Neither is Peter an inspiring illustration of what it means to be a true disciple.
Yet, the Bible speaks of notions such as unshakable faith, perfect love and true discipleship.
Only one story perfectly illustrates the perfection of all these attributes and more — the story of Jesus Christ. If we are to pick our lessons from stories alone, then we can only trust His story and His story alone. No other story is worthy. A teaching on faithfulness that begins and ends with Abraham is a false teaching. A teaching on prayer that begins and ends with Jabez is a false teaching.
You see, stories are powerful, but stories are not God. The story of God is God himself, coming in human flesh, living and dying on a cross, being raised on the third day and ascending up to heaven. There are teachings in this story. Commands in this story. Purposes and teaching points in this story. These are what makes the story complete, rational, perfect.
But there is something more in the Bible stories, something that makes this and all other stories on earth powerful. There is a person in this story. Jesus is the person that makes sense of the Bible. Without Him, the Bible stories are just one of the many ancient myths from the East. Without Jesus, Joseph is admirable, but not real. Without Jesus, David is cute, but not a realistic King. Without Jesus, creation is a parable and not the truth. Jesus makes sense of it all.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” [Hebrews 1:1-3a]
If you are not in Christ, you probably enjoyed reading the first half of this post, but it got boring and out of touch when I brought in the Bible and Jesus. If you are in Christ, the first half of this post made even more sense to you after reading the second. That it is Jesus, the great story-teller, who makes every other story powerful… and every biblical account sacred.
And that it is Jesus, the AUTHOR and perfecter of our faith, who will not be satisfied with a faith that is simply defined but not lived out as a life-story.
What we ULTIMATELY want, and need, is not effective communication, but genuinely transformed lives.
We will not be satisfied with being inspired, we must also be changed from the inside out.
We need God’s story, to become our story… through Jesus Christ.
For the fame of His name,
One thought on “The Powerful Weakness of Stories”