If the word ‘princess’ appears in a book title, I know my
wife and daughter are going to buy it. They love princess stories. My
son claims he is burnt out on princess stories, but he still enjoyed the movie,
Princess Bride. It had everything; pirates, monsters, sword fights, as
well as a love story.
We all love stories. It’s an easy way to learn and a very
effective way to teach. Princeton University researchers have discovered that storytellers
cause the brains of their listeners to operate in sync with their own. Groups
of specialized neurons called “mirror neurons” exist opposite each other in the
left and right hemispheres of the brain. This makes it possible for us to participate
vicariously in what someone else is experiencing. These neurons also enable
human empathy, allowing us to tune into each other’s feelings. In effect,
mirror neurons allow us to live “inside” the minds of others. A good
story provides a point of entry—a portal—that allows the listener to join in
the adventure. This is why hearing a story of adventure can be almost as
exciting as having the adventure for yourself.
Every human being’s life is a unique story. Just think of it: over seven billion
different stories going on all at once, intertwining, and overlapping, as we
love each other, hate each other, struggle and laugh together. Every minute,
new human stories are beginning in birth and old ones are winding down in
Eugene Peterson, author of The Message says, “We live
in a narrative, we live in a story. We have a beginning and an end, we have a
plot, we have character.”
It would seem that story is the language of the heart.
Our lives are not just a series of impersonal calculations. Rather, we experience the images and emotions
of a dramatic narrative.
And each of our stories has its own context, culture and time
in history. No matter when we live, or where we live, we are all part of a
bigger story. The Bible introduces us to that story. God is the ultimate
author and the ultimate storyteller. In the books of the Bible, he tells
us, in many different ways, of the relationship he has had with us – a
relationship that actually began before the creation and was consummated in the
birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is sad that so many use the Bible as a rulebook, or even
as a weapon, to instill fear and lay guilt on themselves and others. The Bible
is a love story. God gives us the plot and shows us how we all have a part in
it. It is the story of God’s love for us individually and collectively. A love
that has to deal with rebellious and distrustful people who can be full of
pride and evil desires – all too often even carrying out those sinful desires. We
are given an overview of the entire plot in John 3:16-18. These verses have
been called the story of the Bible in a nutshell. “For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not
perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to
condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” The God of the universe
has made our story his story, by entering into it himself, reconciling us to
himself that we might receive from him life eternal. Truly, no greater love
story has ever been told.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.