A simple conversation with a teenager about their attendance at youth functions at the Church provided an interesting revelation. The teenager who was no longer present at events argued that they didn’t need to attend as they “knew all those Bible stories pretty well.” They were looking for something more practical than just relearning the same old stuff.
Honestly, I do understand their frustration. It can seem like we preach and teach on the same passages in the Bible frequently. There is the flood, the coat of many colors, the exodus, Jonah, Gideon, Samson, David and Goliath and a handful about Jesus.
I also think this person was completely wrong. They knew about some stories in the Bible, but they had no idea concerning the meaning. Take Jonah for example. I am sure most people can tell you the basic narrative. Jonah ends up in the ocean and is swallowed by a whale. Simple enough to understand, now let’s move on to something else. I would argue that if that is all you know, then you have no idea what the story is really teaching us. In Jonah, we have a man disobeying God, God’s mercy through ugliness, a second chance for Jonah, God’s love for outsiders, God’s grace and a believer’s ugly heart. There is so much in that one four-chapter book that can impact our thinking about God, ourselves and others. That one little Old Testament story helps us understand the Gospel and why Jesus came to earth. It provides us with the metal tools to shape our attitudes and our actions. By believing that upon hearing a Bible story they had mastered it, they totally missed the point.
The Bible is not a storybook that provides us with nice tales to keep the kids entertained. It is a series of books that reveal the nature of God, people and how they both interact. While I am all for practical teaching that is relevant to life. We need to have a solid understanding of theology from which our actions flow. Missing the lessons from what is being taught will lead us to all kinds of misinformation, wild conclusion, and unwise actions.
So, the next time you read or hear a story from the Bible, listen carefully. Lean in and ask some big questions. What does the passage actually say? What does the story mean? What are we supposed to learn about God from this? What are we to better understand about ourselves? How would our world be different if we lived in light of the truth of this passage?
Maybe one of the problems in our world is that we have no real concept of what God is trying to communicate to us through these ancient writings. Perhaps we have assumed we knew the truth and we only know rumors and conjecture.
I want everyone to know the stories of the Bible, but I certainly hope it does not end there.