If you were to read just the first few chapters of Genesis and then the last few chapters of Revelation, there’s a chance you would recognize that these two authors, separated by thousands of years, and a million cultural differences, were writing in a conversation with one another. Revelation was a distinct, separate book at the time. It wasn’t bound by leather into a collection with 65 other books. It stood on it’s own.
But that’s what makes the whole Scripture so interesting. Because these books were written indepedently, but they are not independent. They depend on each other, they are interwoven, sharing themes and language….and most importantly, a story.
I love N.T. Wright’s point here. “We must learn to read the parts in light of the whole.”
Because the story that the Bible is telling is Epic. It’s this large over-arching story with a thousand different characters that are flawed and hopeful, deeply broken yet strangely included. And there is a plot that is guiding these little stories toward a larger more magnificent one. And this is one of the best reasons to immerse yourself in the story of the Bible. Read it, absorb it, in the words of Eugene Peterson, “Eat this book.” Because the Bible has plenty of experience in taking the little you bring to the table and involving it in something much larger than that.
I sometimes imagine what if the Canon was re-opened in a few decades. I wonder what little stories will be included. Will it be Pauline the grocery bagger who bravely tries to share Jesus with everyone who comes through her line? Or Scott who left his priviledged life in the suburbs to teach children in the inner city how to read? And if that question bothers you at all, it’s because the stories of the Scripture haven’t quite done what they are hoping to yet.
Because the Bible is filled with men and women who were brick-layers and shepherds (the gas station attendants of the day) Midwives and IRS agents. They were just faithful in the small things and found themselves drawn up into larger things than they could have ever imagined. Like being characters in a story that is still being told to this day.
That’s why the Scripture is so brilliant. Because it refuses to be read in little parts or chunks, but it consists of them. It’s a whole lot of little people that add up to a really big thing. And that invitation is still open today. It’s the Script of the people of God. And it’s big enough for everyone.
Thanks to David Clayton for this video.