Jonathan Sacks says, “God created mankind because He loves stories.” And isn’t that what the Bible is — a book of stories? Stories of people who are often far-from-exceptional, but ones God calls, and redeems, and uses. In other words, the Bible is the story of a Great God doing amazing work through ordinary people.
Which means: there’s hope for you and me! For what are we, but ordinary people? If God can use David (adulterer, murderer, and sneak), then God has a place for you and me in his kingdom. I like the way my friend Shannon puts it:
As for your question about how my reading has helped me live out my faith, this slightly different perspective has changed the way I think about the “heroes” of our faith. The New Living Translation has helped me appreciate the fact that these guys weren’t just regular guys with great faith that occasionally made mistakes. No, these guys (and gals) had some real character flaws. Even after they came to saving faith, those flaws were still there. And they weren’t just minor flaws! Jacob, for instance, feels kind of like a weasel. He sometimes even comes off as whiny and feeling sorry for himself. God used this dude to found His Nation! The point is that God doesn’t begin to act through my faith after he’s turned me into some kind of hero. So I need to stop waiting. All we do is say yes, and he begins to work.
I like that: we say yes to God’s invitation, and God begins to work. For when we know the story of the Bible — the whole story — we come to learn that God has a place for us. And when we say yes to that invitation, God writes us into His Story. Often, that doesn’t mean we become superhero Christians; instead, it means that God changes and shapes us, and makes us more like Jesus everyday. We still fumble and bumble about, but, as Shannon points out, so did most of the characters in the Bible.
In other words, this story is not contingent on MY accomplishments, but God’s! He’s the one doing the work, and my job, and your job, is to align ourselves with that story in everything we do. And when we stumble, or even do a spiritual face-plant, we look up and find God’s grace is still there — grace that is powerful enough to include even my failings in God’s greater purposes.
So, don’t just read the Bible. Find yourself in the Bible. And keep looking to the Author, as you live out your part of the Story.