In the anthology Formation for Mission, David Setran explains the core story of the Bible:
The biblical narrative reveals a missional God who invites human beings to frequently participate in furthering his plans and purposes. It is a story that speaks to the world’s beginning (creation and fall), middle (redemption through Christ’s atoning work, gospel spread and impact), and eschatological hope (a future new heavens and new earth).
However, he notes that this story is often modified in a way that is more appealing.
One of the challenges for Christian emerging adults is that false stories can get woven together with the Christian story to create unhelpful hybrids.
These syncretistic stories then modify the radical nature of the gospel’s missional narrative, generally distorting it by removing its unfavorable elements and substituting a new and more palatable ending.
For example, the “Christian American dream” story might blend elements of the prosperity gospel with the biblical narrative to describe a story of increasing success, comfort, and affluence as people devote themselves to the Lord.
The “Christian romantic dream” story might portray a life in which God will give emerging adults their ideal soulmate if they honor him with the lives and sexuality.
The problem in both cases is that Christ becomes not their ultimate love, but rather a tool by which they can gain what they really love: success or marital ecstasy.
It also means that those who don’t achieve this—the poor, the suffering, the single, and those dealing with same-sex attraction—are locked out of the “happily ever after” these stories portray.
This insight inspires me to a personal exercise: how do I really tell the story of the Bible?
For instance, I remember when I was 24, I realized I had this story of the Bible in my heart:
If you are incredibly religious and devout, then God will favor your prayers and bless you.
It was uncomfortable to face that heart reality. I needed God’s help to adjust my expectations to fit what the Scriptures actually said.
What are the ways you see the Biblical storyline distorted?
By telling both the Biblical story - and our stories - we gain clarity about what it means to live for Jesus. Together, we can help each other see our blind spots, and grow to Christlikeness.