One lazy weekend, I was listening to “Hey Jude” when I realized I had never actually read the book of Jude. I grabbed my Bible and flipped open to the short letter in the New Testament.
A few verses in, the author warns his newly Christian audience to be careful with their faith, “I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
Okay, that’s enough, I thought, and quickly to my favorite chapter in Galatians, which speaks about freedom.
I’d love to say this happened years ago, when I was just learning about the goodness of God, but this was last year. I was already working as a missionary.
When you read about God’s wrath in the Bible, are you ever tempted to forget about His love and see Him as nothing but angry and harsh? That was the case for me.
Fear and early misconceptions can bring me back to the angry God of my childhood when I read wrathful moments in the Bible. That’s why I’ve never tried to read through the whole Bible, much less in a year.
That’s when I was introduced to a new way to see the ancient text.
Have you ever heard of someone doing a “Read through the Bible in a year” plan and immediately knew you never could? Viewing the Bible for its big story has changed that feeling for me, maybe it could for you too.
The problem, in some ways, is simple: it’s hard to see the Bible for the bigger story it told.
Although I knew God was always the same, He looked so different in different parts of the Bible. How could my loving Father be the same One who was furious with His people when they whined in the desert?
But I never learned how each piece of the story fit into God’s bigger plan.
Let’s take a fairytale many know and love, Beauty and the Beast. Belle’s independence and compassion is what makes her character so admirable. But if you start the story when you hear Gaston confessing his love for Belle and her reply of, “I will never marry you!” you probably wouldn’t think highly of her.
Of course, you don’t know she’s at her wits end having declined politely many times, nor that the arrogant Gaston only loves Belle’s beauty. Starting in the middle could easily cause you to jump to conclusions about Belle’s character.
I’ve started using The Bible Project to look at the full picture of what is happening in scripture. Watching the videos has even challenged me as the Project’s producers stop mid-video to ask important questions like, “Wait—did God just say to wipe out all those people?” Then they explain how it fits into the greater story.
I’ve set aside an hour every day to watch the videos, read or listen with Bible Gateway’s audio feature to the passage for the day and pray through that day’s Psalm. Three months in, I’m starting to see God for His love and justice throughout His story.
“I absolutely love my chronological bible: “Reading God's Story” has the Bible divided into three acts and describes the plot, major characters, etc. for each section. Then it’s written chronologically. Example: After Genesis 1 comes a passage from John 1 (“In the beginning was the Word”), and then a Psalm of praise to the God of creation”
– Mary Keith
“Some favorites are The Mission of God by [Christopher] Wright, Far as the Curse is Found by [Michael] Williams, The Drama of Scripture by [Craig] Bartholomew and [Michael] Goheen”
– Vincent and Holly Hoppe, church planters and Cru staff members
“How about a non-book resource? StoryRunners has a webpage where you can listen to 42 stories that span the Bible and are all connected, showing how it’s all one big story!”
– Hera M., Staff member of StoryRunners, a mission of Cru
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