Life is a story, not a formula or bullet point list. It’s not about the statistics of business, money, or success. It’s about the story of relationships… specifically with God.
I desperately wish that it could sometimes, but the Bible cannot be broken down into a quick formula that will lead us to perfect success or pure morality. If it could, we Christians would be known for our complete immunity to things like unemployment and bankruptcy. We would be the most loved people of human history and never have a failed friendship. People would flock to know God because those who do are never the victims of crime or disease. If you’re reading the Bible so that you can succeed in life or avoid hardships, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re about to be disappointed. I’m honestly surprised you haven’t been already.
More than anything else, the Bible tells us the intricate and sometimes complicated story of who God is and how to have a relationship with Him. And even though it’s a lot harder and frustratingly mysterious without a quadratic formula or easy acronym, I’m glad it’s not that impersonal. Because every relationship is unique and unable to be copied and pasted for others.
Maybe this is why Jesus told stories in order to to teach us who His Father is. It makes sense because if I had to turn my relationship with my mother, father, brother or sisters into a list, I would fail. My guess is that you would as well. But are you really that surprised?
We can, at best, offer stories to explain our personal relationships. Sermons can provide easy to remember action items, but they cannot live the story of our lives for us because knowing about something is not the same as being or doing that thing. We must each take initiative to pursue and participate in this autobiography that God is telling the world because the way we live is meant to be a chapter in that story.
The Bible is not a book that promises to deliver wealth, success, or health, but rather God Himself. It is the love story to explain all love stories. Our lives should clearly proclaim our trust that God really did give Himself to us so that we can be one with Him. And if you need to be reminded of that fact, read this prayer from Jesus. He was talking about you the entire time:
“I’m praying not only for (my current disciples) but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are—I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.
“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me, right where I am, so they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, having loved me long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them—who you are and what you do—and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them exactly as I am in them.”