Story Structure and Jesus

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Story Structure’s Universal Appeal

Can you remember a time when you went to the movies and were blown away by a spectacular film?  There are many good films out there (and just as many bad ones) but every blue moon one comes along that is particularly excellent.  After films of this caliber end instead of the mad scramble to exit the theater there is instead a moment of awe when everyone is just sitting in their seats thinking “wow” as the credits role.  Why is it that a good story can captivate us so?

It’s because we are designed to be drawn to good stories.   Subconsciously humanity has been endowed with an attraction to specific components of story.  Every amazing tale, whether it is a small scale romance novel or an epic fantasy trilogy follows the same quasi-secretive plot formula.  It is partially secretive because while not many people can explain what makes a story great, every human being instinctively knows a good story from a bad one.  There’s a reason some movies put people to sleep and while others are cherished for decades.

A quick fundamental of something every story needs is intense conflict.  There needs to be overwhelming odds, a powerful force of evil keeping the protagonist from his or her goal.  The more the hero suffers, the better the story and the more the audience is drawn into the tale.  Would Lord of The Rings be a good story if the ring was just flown over to Mount Doom and easily disposed of?  Of course not, and nobody would spend 4 hours watching that. Why is it then that humanity was designed to look for intense stories full of conflict?  In Eden before the fall there wasn’t even any conflict.  Adam and Eve didn’t even know what death is.  Why would God then give them a taste for a good story with elements that were yet to be in existence?

Story structure was designed to glorify the Storyteller.    

I believe God imparted a strong sense of story into humanity as a means of drawing His people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the greatest story.   There is definitely something powerful about stories considering they are continuously used by Jesus in his teachings, but it’s more than that.  Every element of a wonderful and captivating tale is skillfully woven throughout the Bible, climaxing with Jesus’ resurrection.  In every story we crave a hero that undergoes tremendous suffering before rising victorious over the enemy.  There is not a more perfect example than Jesus suffering the full wrath of God and then rising from the dead! And moreover, this story is direct game changer for the audience, who through trust in Jesus can be saved from death and given life.  Story ultimately exists to point to the Storyteller, Jesus Christ.

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46

 

There are numerous other ways story structure points to the Storyteller and perhaps I’ll write more on it in the future.  In the meantime if you have any thoughts I would love to talk about it.  Thanks for giving my article a read.

Reflections on Hope and Vanity

People always have something they are placing their hope in.  Whether it’s a job, family, sports, a house, or a relationship, there is something people are banking on to satisfy, oftentimes subconsciously.  When these subconscious goals are not met the result is a spectrum of negative emotions such as frustration, moodiness, and sadness.  These undesirable feelings fall like a depressing weight on life, one which can never be escaped by indulgence or substances or antics.  And still people uncritically pursue whatever that thing is that they believe to solve their pain and give them peace.

The unfortunate thing is, whatever people have placed there hope in won’t actually deliver what they are looking for.  That’s why so many people who have achieved ultimate success from the culture’s perspective end their lives.  After so much pain and striving they discovered that their solution was a hallow lie.  And so without their hope being realized they either put their hope in yet a different deception or turn to suicide.  To summarize, people vainly strive after goals that won’t even satisfy them or grant peace if achieved.  This poisonous pattern has characterized everyone’s life at one point or another.  But there is a true hope.

There was once a man who had been partly paralyzed for much of his life.  Because of his condition he could barely drag himself around and couldn’t provide for himself. Desperately wishing to be healed so he could have the life back he once knew, he would oftentimes wait by the waters at a small spring on the edge of the city where he lived.  There was a belief in the culture of the time that if the waters stirred the first person to enter the pool would be completely healed.  For this reason many lame and blind people congregated around the spring, hoping just maybe to be restored.  The man waited and waited but the waters almost never stirred.  Even when they did he could not drag himself to the water before the others raced to the edge.  Still paralyzed he was bitter and frustrated, but all of that changed when a man named Jesus approached him.  Jesus simply spoke and the man was cured.

We have all been that man.  He was seeking hope for his hurts in a pool.  We seek our hope in the American dream or whatever the culture is currently embracing. Both are frustratingly out of reach, and even if realized they do not provide the satisfaction and peace we are seeking.  The refreshing news is that Jesus is still interested in healing others and He will always come through.  He is the right person to put your hope in.  He calls for people to believe in Him and follow Him.  We all know that following the world is a frustrating and unhappy process, and it ends with feeling all worn out and unsatisfied.  Following Jesus on the other hand is deeply refreshing.  And most importantly, when you finally meet your goal, you won’t find it lacking.  Jesus is the true hope.