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GUEST POST: The Force Is Strong With This One

 —  June 23, 2013 — 3 Comments

Do you remember seeing “Star Wars” for the first time?

I do. I was ten years old. I didn’t get it. I thought the Wookie was cool because he sounded like a whale with a social disease. Yoda was funny because he was a talking malformation of a pistachio. Also the force, as far as I understood it, was strong between Princess Leia and myself. Aside from that, I didn’t understand the plot.

I’m so glad a youth pastor didn’t explain it to me. Because if they had, it would have sounded like this:

1. Luke was a man of small beginnings.

2. Luke was a man who believed.

3. Luke was a man who belabored (you know…with Obi-Wan-Kenobi only for Obi-Wan-Kenobi to die and then re-appear as a talking apparition who warned him against confronting his evil father because he was too emotional but he did anyway and so his hand was cut off and he fell into a vortex but was recovered by his new friends unfortunately Hans Solo was carbon-frozen just after Luke’s sister fell in love with him but Yoda died so Luke had to go free Hans himself but he didn’t fall into the giant spiky-pit that burps instead he was taken captive by the emperor where he faced off with his father and basically lost but when the Empire tried to electrocute Luke his Dad changed his mind and threw his boss into a pit thus restoring the Empire to peace).

Therefore, we should:

1. Be content with the Force’s provision.

2. Be a believer in the Force’s power.

3. Work hard toward the Force’s purpose.

If I’d heard that, I never would have given Star Wars a second chance. I’d be under the impression it was pretty shallow, simplistic, and boring. Why else would someone repackage it into mildly clever alliteration?

And why would we treat the best book ever, full of the best stories ever, like that? Why extract the pragmatics, and push the story underwater? Doesn’t the Bible deserve better than a dissected pickled frog?

The problem is, we let our story (the story of “use the Bible to follow your dreams”) determine the Bible’s story, rather than vice versa. We’re meant to enter Narnia and come away magically transformed. That’s why Jesus taught in parables, not principles:

  • “Some will be eunuchs for the kingdom”; not “Abstinence is something I value!”
  • A Pharisee and a tax-collector; not: “Be humble now, folks!”
  • A run-away scoundrel son; not “Let’s extrapolate the doctrine of God’s mercy, point by point!”

And when all was said and done? He rose from the dead, then told us to read the old stories anew: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:27).” My translation: “Now if you really want to know me, get to know these killer stories!”

The point is: if we want people to read the Bible, we need to tell the stories at least as well as our Great Uncle Frank.  Rather than immediately jumping to pithy applications next time you lead a teach on Wednesday night, lead a student Bible study, or meet to study the Bible over coffee, why not stop and smell the ink? Why not take in the scenery? Why not laugh at the punch-lines?

I’ll bet the Story-teller will smile.

Nicholas McDonald is the Youth Director at Carlisle Congregational Church in Massachusetts.

Josh Griffin

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3 responses to GUEST POST: The Force Is Strong With This One

  1. Hmm… who does that go along with PD Preaching?

  2. I like how you put this: “The point is: if we want people to read the Bible, we need to tell the stories at least as well as our Great Uncle Frank.” It is so true – quit ripping apart the story to find “something else.” That kind of study has it’s own time and place but you must first begin with what the story is – as is.

  3. I like the way C.S. Lewis put it. The purpose of stories is to “baptize the imagination.”

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