I love and hate movies.
Story is my language, my natural medium, the way I understand the world. Give me a long treatise on justification, and I’ll probably listen. Tell me a story to explain it, and I’ll go the whole way. Story, after all, makes the complex comprehensible (little wonder Jesus was so fond of them). Establishing something concrete, something I can grip in my hands, makes all the difference to my brain.
The bad part, on the other hand, is that my brain doesn’t want to let go. Days later it’s busy boring through the plot, imagery, metaphors, and characters. And if there’s even a hint of an “inspired by a true story,” you know I’ll be digging up the facts to compare. The process is so annoying that I love it. (My wife may disagree after our [read: my] post-movie, nighttime ramble-fests.)
I’ve learned all this is supposed to be common to my personality profile (INFJ, for those keeping score). But let’s put that aside and dive deeper: stories stick; narrative captures the mind and weasels down into the heart.
Genesis could have simply said this: God created. The gospels could have been boiled down to the essentials: Jesus came, lived, died for us, and rose again. But that doesn’t do it for us—we rational, emotional creatures with deep spiritual needs. We need God to give us the grand, sweeping narrative, the gritty side of humanity, the brutal death. We need hooks.
If you preach (or write or disciple or teach), go below the facts and rip out the story. Give people something to chew on and don’t just tell them what the Greek says. The Bible’s a story—an amazing story of God saving humanity through Christ. It’s our story.
Grab hold of that wonder and communicate it. Give people like me something to wrestle with for days (and to talk about with family for weeks).