Summary: Why is so much of God’s word narrative? Why did God chose story to instruct us and call us to Christ? There is power in a story. God’s story has the power to save us.
As we study through the gospel of Luke, or any of the gospels for that matter, we find God’s word communicating with us on a different level than direct instructions. God has chosen to use a wide range of literary genre as he inspired his Word to us. The gospels are more than historical stories about Jesus. Of course they are historical, but more than that, they are also designed to inspire faith, define discipleship, confirm accuracy, and reveal mystery. The gospels instruct us and inform us as they tell us the story of Jesus.
Stories can be very powerful. The book Uncle Tom’s Cabin told a story that some say started a civil war. When Movies were first invented they were called moving pictures. Soon after theatres began to open and moving picture shows began to gain popularity, many Christian leaders recognized the power of these to impact culture and the morals of society. They moved to enact censorship and set guidelines for what could and could not be publicly shown. They believed that viewing movies could powerfully shape culture and influence society because many realized the powerful potential of a story. Thus several rules were set up to protect the public from this danger. These guidelines stood for many years. Cursing, nudity, graphic violence, indecent behaviors and other “dangerous influential matters” were guarded against in the movies and later TV shows that were censored.
In 1936 the movie Gone with the Wind came out, it was widely criticized as immoral and indecent largely due to Clark Gable’s last word to Scarlett. On January 6, 1957, when Elvis Presley was on the Ed Sullivan Show, his gyrations were not allowed to be seen on TV because they were considered indecent. On the early I Love Lucy show, Ricky and Lucy Recardo were married but were not allowed to be viewed as sleeping in the same bed on TV.
The 60’s came and brought free love and freedom of expression and in the midst of the confusion, many cultural, moral and decency boundaries were pushed back or completely destroyed. The entertainment industry moved to push the limits of censorship further and further into moral decadence and indecency. Think about this. Today’s teenagers were born and raised in an entertainment culture where the decency bar is so low they can’t imagine the standards many of us grew up in. My question is this: What will the next generation face?
Does anyone here honestly believe that the media and entertainment industry has not impacted our culture and society? Are they not shaping our values and social patterns? Divorce, abortion, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, corruption, filthy language and plain indecency are normal. And how has this happened? Part of it is through communicating the ungodly message within stories! What power is there in a story?
When God started the church with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in Acts 2, what was it God used to convict and convert the multitudes? There were miracles, and they drew the crowds, but they didn’t convict and convert anyone. What happened that began to cut the hearts of the people and compel them to cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” I’ll tell you. It was the story of Jesus, preached by Peter. The miracles got their attention, but it was the preaching of Jesus that cut their hearts with conviction. It was the story of the cross the tomb and the resurrection that caused them to come to their senses. It was the direct accusation of their sins in crucifying the Christ that converted them. God knows that a well told lie couched in a story will do more damage than directly telling someone to sin. God also knows that well told truth in a story has the power to save our souls. That’s why Paul told the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, but the Jew first and also the Greek.” Romans 1:16.
Luke tells us that Jesus said, “The Son of man came to seek and save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10 And how did Jesus begin and fulfill his ministry? Look at Luke 4:18-19, and 43. What did Jesus do before he was crucified, buried and raised? What did seeking and saving the lost look like in his lifetime? He preached good news! How? By story and instruction! Not just command and rules. But by stories, parables, and then applications through command and instruction.
The gospel writers were all inspired to do this same thing. They tell us events in Jesus’ life and then give us the teachings that Jesus taught. These work like scissors to cut through the lies and open up our hearts to the truth. On the other hand, Satan knows that a lie couched in a well told story is convincing. The spiritual forces of evil are working in the sons of disobedience to craft their messages and tell their stories in our entertainment business with amazing success. There was a time years ago when many preachers in most of the churches warned their congregations not to go to movies and view so called entertainment, because of it’s influence on the hearts and minds for evil. Does anyone here remember hearing that? Today our society is so accustomed to viewing immorality and ungodliness we think nothing of entertaining ourselves with Satan’s lies. We are convinced that it is harmless. Some Christians have a kind of faith in Jesus Christ that actually allows us to do these things without conviction. We don’t believe the power of the liar can damage us through movies or TV shows that depict evil as acceptable and even preferable to purity and righteousness. Or if we believe it can, we surrender to it and hope that later we can shake it off. It is not the movies and TV themselves are evil. No! They are just tools to tell stories. In fact, they can be wonderful tools for telling the good news and spreading the gospel. The problem comes up in who is speaking through the stories they tell. Is it God or the enemy? There have been and are some great films being produced that carry the seed of the gospel in them. There are struggling groups who are trying to produce movies with a message that will make a difference for the cause of Christ and I applaud them and suggest that we support them! But they will have a fight on their hands.