Thanks to the internet there has been an explosion of different prospectives on your favorite movies. My personal favorite is the new plot summary for Finding Nemo - “The protagonist’s wife is murdered by a serial killer while his son is left physically disabled. After his son is kidnapped, the man must travel thousands of miles with the help of a mentally unstable woman in order to get him back.” Of course, there are many others that just completely change the whole mood of a movie. The most depressing for me is about the Lord of the Rings trilogy - “Nine hours of men returning jewelry.” There are dozens of these plot lines explained badly out there, and I always laugh at them.
So then I thought, how would this work with Bible stories. David and Goliath - teenage boy, cheats in single combat and then chops off the head of his defeated opponent. He proceeds to break the rules of the agreement by chasing down his enemies stabbing them in the back all while holding the decapitated head of a giant. Gideon, the story of a scared farmer who reluctantly obeys God, raises an army, down sizes that army twice, and then proceeds to trick the worlds biggest army into killing itself. Jesus was basically on a three-year backpacking trip with 12 outcasts who didn’t quite understand what was going on. John the Baptist is killed because of a striptease.
There is a reason that this is usually called explain a movie (Bible) plot badly. These descriptions leave out some of the most important things, especially the Bible examples. They leave out the most important component of the story, God. Gideon isn’t about how Gideon tricks the big bad army into killing themselves but about how God can use the least important person possible who has the least credentials to do his will. But even though these bad explanations aren’t the points of the story, they help us do something we often are bad at - read the Bible like it’s our first time.
There’s this well-known parable called the parable of the sower. This guy is throwing seeds around. Some seeds land on good soil, some land on a path, on rocky soil, or among the thorns. Jesus goes on to explain what happens to the seeds that fall on the various soils and let’s just say it only turns out good for the seed that falls on the good soil. As a kid, I heard this parable all the time, and the message was usually “be the good soil” so I thought I was the good soil. But then Francis Chan wrote a book called Crazy Love where he used this parable to say “don’t assume you are the good soil”. It blew my mind. I had read that story so many times and knew the punchline that I forgot to put myself into the story; I never thought about if I was good soil or not. More than likely most of us fall into the weedy soil, we have some roots, we are growing, but we are constantly fighting to grow in our faith journeys because of all the distractions (weeds). We have to deal with. We love Jesus, but we also love football. We love the church, but we want to spend time at the beach. We would love to give 10% of our income to the church, but the new iPhone just came out.
So read the Bible as you’ve never read it before. Put yourself into the stories, and then put yourself into a different character’s place in the story and see if that changes anything for you. Try to picture exactly what is going on and place it within the larger context of what is going on. Learn to read the Bible for all it’s worth.