Bible Scripture is Script

Scripture is Script

At the end of the last sermon series (the Off the Shelf series), I introduced the idea that the story of scripture is the one true story of the world – that each of our own stories (and every other story) finds its meaning in. As that story, it is something like a six act play, where the majority of the 5th act is missing – and it is our role to “improvise” the rest of the 5th act, playing our part faithfully. I first heard this metaphor for our relationship to scripture from the work of N.T. Wright, but as it turns out, this way of thinking about scripture is found elsewhere.
In the men’s bible study, we’re studying Ephesians, and so I’ve been flipping through some Ephesians commentaries. This week, I stumbled across this – which perfectly clarifies and expands on the above idea. Read it, ponder, and enjoy:
The story (of Scripture) is … a universal story, the story of all things (Eph. 1:10). It is the story that gathers up and transforms all our other stories into the light of God’s work and cause. It is not the case – or at least it ought not be the case – that our identity is provided by some other story so that we salvage something from Scripture and leave the rest for recycling or the dump. No, it is this story in which we find ourselves, this story that gives us an identity and makes us a community, this story that is determinative for what we salvage and redeem from all the other stories of our lives, talking every though captive, discerning together what is fitting to the story, what is worthy of the gospel.
 – p. 9, Ephesians: Belief Commentary, by Verhey & Harvard
I love that quote. We are taught, in culture today, that we can become whatever we want and create our own identity. We are our own creators – and masters! We’re told that the highest human fulfillment is to ‘find yourself’ – and by that, it means, “create yourself in your own image”.

As a society, I think we’re struggling greatly towards this end.  And we have for a very long time.

The wild claim of scripture, however, is that

it is in the bible’s story that we truly find ourselves – are truly given our identity – and what we find there is so much better than any other competing story could ever hope to provide.

It’s why the bible’s story determines what we keep and what we scrap from every other story we live from – be it from our upbringing, our dreams, our mistakes, our successes, our preferred future, or our culture’s influence…what should be let go of, what can be salvaged and dragged forward, and what can be redeemed and healed and turned into something beautiful.  

It causes us to ask some deep questions about our own lives’ stories:
What should be let go of?
What should be salvaged?
What should be redeemed?

And as is key to this understanding of the story of scripture, it is not over:
Moreover, it is a continuing story. We claim to know something about the end of the story by the resurrection of this Jesus from the dead, but we do not claim that the story has ended. Scripture is script, but the curtain has not yet fallen. We are not only readers but performers, and as performers we find ourselves part of the drama, not just spectators … We are actors, agents in a continuing story. Performance will require both fidelity and creativity. The community performs the script with moral discernment when it tests its own actions by the story of which it too is a part. We test our character and conduct by whether they fit the story, by whether they are worthy of the gospel.

 – p. 10, Ephesians: Belief Commentary, by Verhey & Harvard

The curtain has not yet fallen. We have much to do, much to learn about the script, and much to act on. Over the last 4 weeks in the Between the Trees series, we’ve basically looked at the first ‘four acts’ of the unfinished play, and it is this week that we will look into our (unfinished) part.

How can we remain faithful to the story?
How can we be creative in how we play the role?
How can we play our part – live our lives – in a manner that is ‘worthy of the gospel’?

That’s what we’ll dig into this week. I hope to see you Sunday!

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