“Processing life experiences through God’s Story helps me live better. It also makes it easier to talk naturally with other people about my faith.”
To know the Big Story of life, meaning and hope
Meaning for our experiences in life are revealed by God’s Story. By keeping the main narrative grouped in five columns (Creation/Rebellion/Redemption/Transformation/Completion) we see progression in the big picture. This helps us maintain perspective. Life has good and bad, but there is meaning and hope. The key is to follow Jesus and to keep growing in his character.
Show how God’s Story helps believers and skeptics
Jesus’ execution deeply confused his people. Talking to disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus used the overall Story to reorient them (ReThink):
He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Luke 24:25-27
Christ’s followers also told the overall Story to proclaim Jesus as the key to meaning and hope. In Acts 14 the apostle Paul tried to explain a dramatic experience to crowds who had a very different “story” in their minds. It did not go well. The crowds thought he was talking about Zeus and Hermes. In Acts 17 Paul talked to urban intellectuals about life experiences, and ultimately how God’s Story calls us to ReThink who we are and what we should do. By putting the Story up front this time, he was much more effective in communicating his message.
Missionaries have learned how important it is for ideas and experiences to have a framework. Scripture and teaching, without knowing the Story, often get understood in distorted ways, if at all. The good news is that the Story can be understood and communicated concisely.
Symbols are good for sharing ideas, but meaning is not automatic
“1,2,3” are symbols with mathematical meaning. The words we say when we read those symbols depends on what languages we speak. The same is true of a symbol like this ☮. The word you associate with it might be “paz” or “peace” or something else. What is even more important than which word you use for a symbol is what you mean by using the symbol. The meaning is not automatic; it has to be defined.
The Crown~Heart~World sketch uses symbols to show ideas, and their relationships to one another, on one page. We can also talk about the symbols in different ways; from the perspective of experiences and questions, or from the perspective of scripture and meaning:
Meaning? Where does life and questioning come from? What is ultimate?
God as the I AM. He is self-existent and the source of all else. Life is from him.
Relational goodness? How can we understand our need to give and receive appropriate love with others?
Humanity is made in God’s image. God is love. The two things which sum up every commandment is to give and receive appropriate love with God and people.
Physical goodness? There is so much that is useful and wonderful. How do we wisely used what is good? Should we be grateful?
God made the world good and gave humanity the responsibility to rule wisely.
Goodness and meaning are real.
God gives goodness and the wisdom to enjoy it.
Process things from simple to more developed, as needed
The sketch looks complicated at first. It should. It is an explanation of the whole story of the Bible as it relates to God, humanity and the rest of creation. But the basic ideas can start simply, including a response:
All of this is sketched as simply as possible. Five columns of Story are developed in three rows of symbols relating to God, humanity and creation. Here is one way to learn and share with others:
Start with trying to learn the headings for the five columns:
Creation / Rebellion / Redemption / Transformation / Completion
then work on learning the symbols,
next, learn the sequence of the symbols in the columns,
finally, learn to move around in the diagram of symbols as needed for understanding or explaining.