Since it came out in the fall of 2008, I’ve been passionately getting people to read Scott McKnight’s “Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read The Bible.” From my perspective it could be by far, one the best and easiest to digest books out there to help readers of the Bible truly make sense of the Bible as a whole and better help us navigate those sticky hard to figure out passages.
McKnight has helped me to better articulate that the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is one consistent story: It’s the story of God who is crazy in love with the people he created, and how he has made a way for us to be at one with Him, and at one with each other, at one with creation, even as God is at one with himself.
There really is an overriding story to the whole of the Bible. It’s all about a restored relationship we can have with God, restored relationships we can have with each other, and ultimately it’s about a resorted relationship we are to have with creation.
McKnight tells us that the Bible is a book with a beginning, that’s Genesis chapters 1 to 11, and a long, long middle, that’s Genesis 12 to Malachi 4 and then Matthew through Revelation, and there’s an end, that shows up in a few places, like Matthew 25, Romans 8 and Revelation 21 and 22. The climax is the death and resurrection of Jesus that makes this oneness, this restoration possible.
Within the Bible there are a bunch of smaller stories that each contribute to the overall story. Again, what unites them altogether is this story of oneness or restoration, where are all things are ultimately destined to be made right, that all of creation and all the people of this world who chose God’s offer of restoration, despite the hurt and mess you find, will ultimately be made right. The Bible calls us to look forward to the coming new heaven and new earth where our God… “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4, TNIV)
So when you read the Bible, you start with an understanding that it’s a bunch of little stories that are all related, that are all part of the big story, the story that God is crazy in love with his creation including you and me, that he wants us to be at one with him, and each other. And when you read with that understanding, it really does begin to make sense, even some of those tough passages become easier to grasp or at least don’t need to be the red herrings we so often make them to be. It actually all fits as part of the big story.
And while we believe that the canon of the Bible is complete, God’s story continues. And you and I fit right into God’s Genesis to Revelation story. Our part of the story, our mission is to serve as agents of this restoration, this oneness project of God. We lead people to experience oneness with God and then through oneness with God, oneness with each other. Further in anticipation of the promised new heaven and new earth, we work towards that ultimate restoration even now, seeking even as Jesus taught us to pray, to see more and more of God’s kingdom come, God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven. Quite simply we work to make the invisible kingdom which is not far off, visible now.
It’s the greatest story ever, “For God so loved the world …” And you and I get to be a part of this story. We might not be part of the canon on Scripture, but we’re still very much a critical part of “his story”! God wants each of us to play our role, to take all of our talents, resources and gifts and leverage them in the power of His Spirit for the sake of His oneness project, seeing God’s kingdom come, God’s will done in individual lives and our world at large, in anticipation of the return of Jesus when it all will be made right.