Do You Believe the Fiction?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, December 17, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I recently had a special time together with some extended family. It was special because we haven't visited with this part the family for more than 2 decades. We caught up as much as we could and appreciated the time together in the present. And we told stories.

These were shared stories, that have been told in our families in one way or another for my lifetime. My kids asked about specific stories they had heard about my relatives, and with starry eyed reflection those relatives got to tell that story to my kids, from THEIR perspective, for the first time.

Some of the details were the same, some were foggy from the years passing, and everyone helped reconstruct some parts from the pieces they had heard. It was fun. And what was most amazing is, the stories didn't change much, even with the different story teller. Over the years of the story being told, the original perspective of the person who experienced it and those who retold the story of their experience were virtually identical. All the nuances only made the stories richer.

That is the nature of history, and shared history. It is facts and evidences preserved in memory, archeology, experiences, and story. History does not change regardless of memory, and the effects of historical actions remain fixed in the experience of their time. These historical facts are essential to understanding our arrival at this place in time, and they can bring wisdom to bear on our future decisions.

When someone re-writes history by telling the story differently and changing the major elements of the story, it blinds us to that wisdom and can lead us to some very unwise and destructive decisions.

Read Judges 11:18-28. Once Jephthah became the leader of Israel, he starts trying to work with the king of the Ammorites. The King accuses Israel of stealing the land from the Ammorites. Jephthah's reply is to retell the story from a position of historical accuracy, and to show that because of the stubbornness of the former kings of Moab and Ammon, God removed them from the land. Then Jephthah asks a very simple question which I am going to paraphrase. He essentially says, "Our God drove you from the land; wouldn't you have done the same if your gods had given Israel into your hands? Besides in 300 years Israel has lived here and you have never tried to take back the land... why now?"

Jephthah uses an accurate retelling of history to expose the current motives of the king of the Ammorites. The plain and simple truth was they wanted the land. They felt they were in a good position to threaten Israel and had to justify going to war somehow. So, they created the excuse that Israel stole the land from them.

The land of "revisionist history" is a very dangerous place to live. But it is also very tempting place. It is a land where angry people who have to be right like to live. It's a land where hurt people who vow vengeance, or never to be hurt again, like to live. It is a place where unscrupulous politicians, immoral, and amoral people live, where they can make up whatever rules fit their desires. And it is a place where every human being is tempted to live where we choose our version of events over what really happened. This has always been true of humanity, and the effects we feel today are amplified a hundred fold by millions of opinions thoughtlessly expressed on social media.

In the Church, we have been tempted to revise history to suit many versions of almost every aspect of culture, life, and society. We have polluted the community of faith with disunity over our versions of how the Bible is to be read, taught, and applied. We have gone so far as to attack other believers over moral, racial, social, political, and other issues. The level of intoxication with our own spin on how to "love God and love others" has corrupted our very ability to both love God and love others. We have permitted our opinions and thoughts to lead us beyond the presence of God and into a dreamland of shattered mirrors that reflect only the parts of the picture we accept.

I have watched recent events polarize the church in ways they never should have been able to. But because we have lost our bearings on history, because we have diverted from the one true account of God's story, and we have stopped listening to the one who can retell it from the most accurate position - Jesus.

What parts of your own history, or the Bible, have you “re-written” to suit your own version of how you want to live? Are you even aware of where you have departed from historical Truth, and have begun living according to a historical fiction? A clue to where you have departed from God's story may be found in where you are fighting against His Word, or fighting against other believers. Consider the story you are telling yourself and why you feel a NEED to tell it that way.

We all need to return to God and to spend significant time in His presence, re-reading His Word without the "borrowed lenses" we have. Will you take the time to be with God, present and still, listening to His Spirit? Will you let Him retell His story to you from His perspective?

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