Not long ago I saw a movie on Netflix called “Passengers”. At first I didn’t like it all, it seemed formulaic and cliché. I was ready to write it off but I hung in there. Near the end was a surprising twist that completely changed my understanding of what I had seen earlier. Seeing the end of this movie changed the entire movie – it now made sense. If I’d told someone what it was about, only seeing half of the film, I would have been completely wrong.
I think all good movies are like this. If I were to study just one part of John Ford’s great Western, “The Searchers”(like the part where Ethan finally confronts Scar in his camp) I might think the movie was about the brutality of the Comanche and the best way to deal with them – that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. I would have missed John Ford’s entire point and also misread his personal views on the American Indian.
I think that’s what most of us do with the Bible. We read the book like a dictionary. We aren’t so much interested in how the story turns out or how the end of the story changes the thrust of each chapter, but instead we focus on the paragraphs within each chapter independently, like entries in an encyclopedia, hoping to find meaning in them. We can’t read a story in this way or we just won’t get it. One look at the shape of this world says that we haven’t. Not even close.