Living a Better Story (1 of 9)In his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years Donald Miller tells of two producers who want to make a film of his life. They run into one problem, however—Miller’s life doesn’t turn out to be exciting enough for the basis of an entire motion picture. The producers thus begin editing Miller’s life-story into one more appropriate for the silver screen. This process leads Miller to wonder what it would be like to pursue a life that is more fulfilling and film-worthy. He sets out to do just that—live a better story.The Bible is designed to do this very thing. It enables us to live a better story. Scripture lays out the chapters of an inspiring storyline which can be ours if we wish. The Bible is the chronicle of a God whose enduring love empowers us to live transformed lives.
In a companion booklet to this one entitled “Getting Your Story Straight” we learn this alternate narrative. The Bible comes down to four simple ideas: where we are, where we were, where we’re going, and how we’re going there.
Where we are is a story with four realities. First, there is social breakdown. Despite advancements in science, technology, and knowledge, we still cannot get along. Second, there are natural crises. We face significant issues regarding our planet and its resources. Third, there are future uncertainties. Science, philosophy, politics, and economics haven’t been able to secure our future. Finally, there are spiritual mysteries. Given the challenges of contemporary life, we reach out in the hope that there is a being greater than us. But who is this being? These four realities shape our present.
Where we were is the story of how the God of the Bible intended life. The Bible describes God’s original plan in Genesis 1-2. There, God created a world of social harmony. Humans were “hardwired” to live in healthy relationships with others. In addition, God crafted a world of natural responsibility. Humans became keepers and wardens of creation. Genesis further reveals that God established a world with future possibilities. He put into place strategies to ensure that our future would be bright and abundant. Finally, Genesis claims that God created a world with spiritual intimacy. There was closeness and connection between God and humanity. This is life we were meant to live.
Where we are going is back to that Genesis storyline. God is working to re-create us, the earth, and the heavens so that we can experience what he first intended. God’s working toward a future that mirrors what began in Genesis. And it’s not just pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by. This renewal and recreation has already begun.
How we are going is through Jesus and his followers. God’s son Jesus calls this future the “kingdom of God.” Through Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching this future begins breaking into our present. Ultimately, however, Jesus’ death and resurrection are the greatest means for establishing this kingdom. Jesus takes upon himself the consequences of all the social breakdown, natural crises, future uncertainties, and spiritual mysteries. He sacrifices himself to save us from these disorders. His death forever closes the gap between humans and God. And in his resurrection, Jesus gains victory over death and marks the beginning of new life for all. Finally, Jesus provides the Holy Spirit to recreate humans from the inside out and to equip humans with talents so that we too can play a role in bringing God’s future into the present.
The church then becomes a contrast-community where social harmony, spiritual intimacy, and natural responsibility once again reign. Though remarkably flawed, God still makes his future present through the church. As he does, darkness in the world is dispelled and decay is destroyed. The church invites others to join this mission until Jesus returns and he finally ushers in the kingdom in its fullest and most satisfying form.