I read a lot of nonfiction. I suppose it comes with the territory of being a pastor.
Our kids, though, give me an excuse to read fiction. Most nights, I’m lying next to their beds reading a story. Is this for their benefit or mine? I’ll leave you to judge. And here’s something great: as the kids get older, the stories get better.
This week, we finished the third book in what we thought was a trilogy – the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. But, low and behold, on the final page of book three, we learned there’s a fourth and final book set to come out this spring. The adventure continues!
Here’s a quote that helps me understand why I love reading these books to our kids.
“Story provides the most fundamental and most fertile way we have of making sense of human experience. Whenever, as human beings, we have had to explain something important to ourselves, we have told a story. And we should do the same when we need to explain our own lives. This is not a metaphor. Life is not like a story. Life is a story. Your life is not like a novel. Novels are like your life— and that’s why we read them. Novels are exercises in imagined lives. Our own lives are embodied stories. The challenge of living is to discover (some would say create) a story that is worth living and then to live it well.” – Daniel Taylor, the Skeptical Believer.
I have come to believe that Christianity is fundamentally a story. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this conclusion (Note: be wary of anyone who claims to be unique in his/her understanding of something spiritual) When I say Christianity is fundamentally a story, I don’t mean it’s made up. What I mean is that it has a beginning and an end. It has conflict, characters and an unexpected but incredible conclusion. It has a hero – God. It has a villain: the Satan.
What does it mean practically that Christianity is a story? Well, it means we need to understand the script. We need to get to know the hero. We need to know what the villain is up to. All of this helps us live a life consistent with the story we’ve been brought into.
This may sound strange, but I regularly ask myself, “Jason, are you living as if the story God has brought you into is true?”
Often, my answer is, “Nope. I’m living as if there’s no God, I’m alone, I’m unloved, and stuff is all that matters.” When my answer is no, my day-to-day life is governed by fear, greed, self-preservation or a combo of all three.
One of the reasons I spend a lot of time reading about Jesus is because he did the best job of living as a human character in the story God is writing. The life and teaching of Christ reorients my own. I see what it looks like to live consistent with the story the Bible tells of a God who is relentless in his pursuit of us and his commitment to mend everything broken – in us and the universe.
Alright, that’s enough. If any of you know when book four of the Wingfeather Saga is coming out, please let me know.