A Bigger and Better Story
There’s a video on YouTube of some people who set up 10,000 iPhones like dominoes and then tipped them over in this insane progression that was perfectly timed to travel all over an office building. Besides being crazy expensive—Where do you even get that many iPhones?—it took some serious planning and execution. Maybe you’ve tried setting up domino patterns before. What makes them both so amazing and so frustrating is that one little bump sets the whole thing off, whether or not you mean to do it.
In the same way, there’s a domino effect with your view of the Bible. The way you see the Bible affects the way you see God, which then affects the way you see yourself. They all flow into one another. Once one idea starts leaning in one direction, everything else follows.
The trajectory of your life will continue in its current direction unless something stops you and changes your direction. The story of the Bible shows a pattern of people falling away from God and the way He interrupted our downward spiral of self-destruction.
In the beginning God created everything in heaven and on earth by the power of His Word. He spoke it all into existence. Nothingness obeyed Him and become something. God looked at everything, blessed it, and said it was good. Everything was in perfect balance, harmony, and rhythm. But then something happened. The order of the universe tipped and made a mess of everything.
Genesis 3 tells the familiar story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Life on earth was never better, but the man and the woman God created chose to disobey Him. You might think the original sin was eating the forbidden fruit. That’s partly true; that was the visible action that broke the one and only rule God stipulated. God had established a healthy boundary in His goodness, and the man, the woman, and all creation were flourishing.
The problem began the instant they entertained the idea that God shouldn’t be trusted and that He wasn’t really good. They wondered whether there was a bigger and better story than the one God was telling them. They gave in to the temptation of seeking happiness apart from God and the way He designed life to work. Despite this epic tragedy, one that would send shockwaves throughout history by introducing sin into the world, we see glimmers of hope.
After Adam and Eve’s sin, they were banished to the east. After their son, Cain, sinned, he was banished east. From that point Genesis describes the growing brokenness of humanity, with the sole exception of a faithful family line from Adam through another son, Seth, to Noah, to Abram, who would become Abraham (see Gen. 4–12). Abram, in contrast to this general trend, moved from Ur (near the Persian Gulf) to Canaan (near the Mediterranean Sea) and even temporarily into Egypt—a general pattern of moving west.
I don’t need to over-spiritualize and exaggerate the action of literally moving in any direction, but the symbolic pattern in the story of Genesis sets up a major theme in Scripture: running from God or following Him in faith.
God invited Abraham to join the story He’d been telling since the beginning, one of mercy and love and blessing. Unlike Adam, who hid in shame when God called, Abraham responded in faith, following God even when He didn’t understand where He was going.
Abraham trusted what God said. He lived on earth as a citizen of heaven. Living on earth as a citizen of heaven is a major theme throughout the story of Scripture. Abraham’s story of living by faith, even in relation to his son Isaac, ultimately pointed to Jesus. Every story in the Bible points to Jesus.
When Jesus called His disciples, they too were ordinary people who had to trust that He was truly inviting them into a bigger and better story than the one they were living. That’s what faith is—acting on your belief in God. It’s responding to His invitation to join Him in a bigger and better story.
A tension exists in a life of faith. You matter, but you’re not the center of the story. Your life isn’t about you. This is actually an incredibly freeing reality.
Unlike Adam and Eve, who fell for the lie that there was a better story than the one God had given them, everyone who lives by faith and follows Jesus enters the story God has been telling since day one. In His own words Jesus told those He’d called to follow Him exactly why He came: I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10).
Excerpted from Jefferson Bethke, It’s Not What You Think Bible Study. © 2015 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.