For many of us, some of our earliest, happiest memories begin with hearing words like, “Once upon a time…” or “A long time ago in a faraway land….” Whether you encountered them while you were snuggled up next to a parent, in a classroom with a loving teacher, or reading the well-worn pages of a library book, stories captivate us from our youngest years. God has wired us to love stories.
Every culture celebrates stories. Generations pass them down, one to the next. For most of human history, stories have been the primary way each generation passed on its history and taught truth to their children. No matter where a person comes from, no matter his or her background, every person you meet instinctively knows how to connect with a story. It’s hardwired into us simply because we are humans made in God’s image.
Our love of stories reflects the greatest Storyteller Himself. In fact, throughout most of the Bible, God uses stories to communicate His truth to us. The majority of Scripture is made up of narratives, from how God created the world to the journey of the people of Israel to the spread of the church in the New Testament. The Bible is filled to the brim with stories that come together to form one great story.
When Jesus walked the earth, He loved to tell stories and often did so to communicate spiritual truths. We call them parables.
In Matthew 7 we read:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” (v. 24—29)
When Jesus wanted to communicate the importance of His overall teaching, He used a story to do it. Everyone listening to Him would have understood the picture He used. The crowds gathered around Him could instantly imagine what would happen to a poorly built house in a storm. Many of them had likely seen houses that had collapsed due to such construction. With one simple story, Jesus vividly depicted the importance of His teachings. And the message got across. In verses 28 and 29, we read “the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority.” A simple story helped Jesus communicate His message in a most powerful way.
Telling the stories of what God has done in our lives differs from just telling our life stories. When we tell our stories of faith, something critical happens. We are no longer the main character – God is. When we put words to what He has done, we reveal how we are the recipients of His love and grace. Our stories become about how He has saved us and is continually making us look more like His Son.
Those around you are hardwired to love stories. And your unique story can introduce them to our loving Father who saves. All you need to do is tell them!