“Tuesday was a fine California day, full of sunshine and promise, until Harry Lyon had to shoot someone at lunch.”—Dean Koontz, Dragon Tears
When it comes to my all-time favorite first lines, this one stands atop my list. Right from the beginning, Koontz gets my attention. A few pages later, when the detective and his partner talk about lunch, I’m put on alert. When a nicely dressed fellow walks into the burger joint they’ve selected, I’m asking, “Is this the guy?”
When I read the Bible, I look through the lens of an author and storyteller. I’m aware of first lines and the unfolding of plot and purpose. And the Bible does have a memorable first line. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
From page one to page last, the Bible’s story line unfolds like the typical romance. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy wins girl back. For a biblical romance that follows this plot line, you can read Hosea, a true story which itself exemplifies God’s love, loss, and redemption of humanity.
Again, thinking like an author, I see an amazing story told in the Bible that follows a three-act structure of a modern play or movie script.
Act 1. Set up. We’re introduced to the main characters and the story problem. Who are the main characters? God and people.
What is the story problem? People put distance between themselves and God. The old-fashioned term for this action is sin. The consequence is separation.
Act 2. Confrontation. This is exactly what it sounds like. Every good story has conflict. That’s what makes a reader turn pages or a movie viewer remain seated, gulping overpriced drinks, and gobbling down oil-saturated popcorn.
So where is the confrontation in the Bible? “…the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9 NKJV).
From that point on, we read about God confronting Adam, Eve, the serpent, Abraham, Lot, Moses, pharaoh, Egypt, Israel, many kings, various nations, and plenty of individuals in both the Old and New Testaments.
Act 3. Resolution. Remember the basic story problem—separation. The confrontations in the Bible serve to highlight how far people will run and to illustrate over and over again the chasm separating us from God.
A problem without a solution leads to resignation. “I’m doomed to always live this way. I can never be [well, healthy, wise, sober, faithful, loved, accepted, affirmed … add whatever you want to the list].”
That, my friends, is hopeless. And we human beings don’t do well without hope. We drink up, eat up, screw up, curl up, and then we die.
The great story of the Bible offers a resolution. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus …” (Romans 8:1a NKJV).
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23 NKJV).
I’m curious. How would you describe the problem between God and humanity and its solution?
Kari Scare writes about Sunday Reflections–Easter Reflections
Cheri Gregory writes about Pointing to Daddy
Donald Miller writes about The Power of Knowing Your Story
Ravi Zacharias writes about The Stories We Tell
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