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Friday, March 7, 2014

"The Big Story" (Justin Buzzard)

TITLE: The Big Story: How the Bible Makes Sense out of Life
AUTHOR: Justin Buzzard
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013, (192 pages).

Are we living our stories? Do we know that our lives are part of a bigger story? What if we are aware that there is a story of stories where we are invited to participate all along? Author and pastor Justin Buzzard poses this question to us in this book: "What sort of story are you in?"

He tells the story of Jesus, how the Son of God is not just a figure in the evangelistic tracts or four spiritual laws in our spiritual marketing of the faith, but the central person drawing both the past and the future together. He moves to the very beginning to recognize God as the Source of all existence, and the foundation of all stories. He tells of the creation act and process in which God had created a world of beauty and love, only for man to stumble and fall as man deliberately rebelled against God and God's original plan. Just as all hope seems lost, God takes the initiative in an amazing redemptive process and kick off the salvation of creation. This is followed by a journey home in which man has hope and begins to live in fellowship with God once again.  Each chapter begins with a story-telling style in which the Bible is brought alive through vivid plot and character description. Like a good story teller, Buzzard draws readers into the chapter, often bringing in contemporary contexts to aid understanding. For example, in Act 3, Buzzard touches the reality of pain and suffering in the terrible shootings in Connecticut, and reminds us that God himself too is able to understand pain and suffering simply because God was there suffering with the people. 

In our modern quick-fix and solutions-minded world, sometimes we lose sight of the reality that life is not just about solving and dealing with problems. Life is in effect living out our stories amid the many stories throughout the world. The Bible is the Story of stories, according to Buzzard. This Big Story comprises of 5 acts. In Act I, as we think of God, we are essentially asking: "Who is God?" The second act in creation is like us asking: "Who am I?" The third act in rebellion probes: "What's wrong with me and the world around me?" The fourth act is a Rescue plot that asks: "What's the solution to all the pain in the world?" The final act of hope looks at: "What do I hope for, and where am I going?"

What I like about this book is the way the framework encourages us to read the Bible and the stories as one Big Story rather than scattered theological concepts or individual stories without any link to one another. Buzzard does more than just Bible study. He weaves in the biblical books to show us the entire plan of God through five acts. At each act, readers are encouraged to find themselves in the stories, acknowledging that each of us are at different phases of our spiritual lives. We can identify ourselves in one or more acts. More importantly, it is more than just about letting the Bible makes sense out of life and our journeys. It is about our awareness of being participants of God's ultimate story of all. In Jesus, we have become important members of this story. 

By situating ourselves within the storyboard of the Bible, not only will we be able to appreciate more of the ancient times, we too find ourselves being drawn into being a play-maker within God's plan. That alone is an exciting proposition.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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