Telling God’s story and getting it right

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"The Hunger Games" movie helps us think carefully about retelling our own stories

By Carmen Andres

The movie version of The Hunger Games prompts us to think carefully about how we tweak our stories and testify to God’s work in our own lives. God’s Story is wild and alive and our efforts to share His story with others should reflect its complexity.

When The Hunger Games hit theaters, John Granger posted “Gamesmakers Hijack Story: Capitol Wins Hunger Games Again” on his blog (www.hogwartsprofessor.com). Granger points out how director Gary Ross subtly tweaks the story to be sympathetic to filmmakers' art and Hollywood—things of which the novel is critical. Essentially, Ross changes the story, retelling it through a lens affected by his own experience and perspective.

As I read the article, I wondered how conscious Ross was of why he made those changes. Then I started to consider it more personally: How do we retell our own stories? And how aware are we of why we retell it the way we do?

I encountered this issue when I started going through children’s Bibles and child-age theological material with my kids. I was bothered by how some of the individual stories are retold (or completely left out) and the way this affects the Bible, God’s Story, as a whole. I also was bothered by overt threads of doctrine. Often, the doctrines themselves weren’t wrong, but they were limiting.

Salvation was explained as a matter of forgiveness of sins but little if anything was included about God’s transforming love, the restoration of our relationships not only with God but each other, the power God gives us to live new lives as individuals and a community and how to work with God in our transformation. Granted, these are big ideas for little minds, but then so is the justification theory of atonement that played throughout the material.

I do this too. We all do. How we understand and retell God’s Story is affected by a wide range of things, from our own walk with God and those who mentored us to the theology and doctrine we pick up along the way. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware of how our understanding of the Story is shaped until something causes us to examine it.

Which is why it is so important to constantly return to God’s Story itself.

It’s been said that modern generations have the most access to the Bible, yet we are the most biblically illiterate. We’re busy. It’s easier to read an article or listen to a sermon than go to God’s Word ourselves. When we actually do read the Bible, we tend to skip over aspects we find hard to understand or difficult to deal with.

God’s Story doesn’t fit into a neat box. It is wild and alive. It is always revealing, a sharp sword that cuts through the veils of the worldviews we’ve created. But we need to be constantly confronted with the whole Story because it will challenge our ideas of how the world works, who we are and, most importantly, who God is. In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis records how God strips away false beliefs and understandings to reveal himself: “Not my idea of God, but God.” God constantly confronts us with our limited beliefs and perspectives because he wants to be known for who he is.

Returning to the Bible, God’s Story, is one of the ways we can work with him to do that. And it’s important that we constantly examine our beliefs and perspectives, because what we understand our story to be and who we understand God to be is what we will retell to others. And as God’s people, it’s important that we work with him to get that right.

Carmen Andres, a former CL editor, is a freelance writer living in Alexandria, Va. In her blog, "In the Open Space: God and Culture," Andres writes about God and faith as she encounters popular culture, movies, television, books and events.

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This article is part of the CL Archives. Articles published between August 2017 and July 2008 were posted on a previous website and are archived here for your convenience. We have also posted occasional articles published prior to 2008 as part of the archive. To report a problem with the archived article, please contact the CL editor at editor@usmb.org.

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