What is your favourite movie? You probably have one or a few that you love, or touched you in some way? Do you know why? Was it because you love action? You are a sucker for a romantic comedy? You want to travel to interesting locations or experience other times in history? What is it that draws us to a particular movie?
Arguably the foremost expert on screenwriting in the world is Robert McKee. To attend one of his 3 day story seminars will set you back the better part of a thousand dollars. McKee in his book, Story, suggests we go to movies for another basic reason. He writes,
“We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems so unlike us, to live a fictional reality that illuminates our daily reality. We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add depth to our days.”
In a sense he is saying, we find ourselves, or we seek to understand ourselves better through the telling of a good story or watching of a movie. I would agree. There is this fundamental human longing to find ourselves and live a better story. For many, a great movie is the best option available to satiate this basic appetite.
This same innate desire, I find, is also met in pages of Scripture. Who of us is not like King David in some way, a person who seeks after God and yet is also tempted by carnal and selfish ambition at times? What about the woman at the well, and the human desire to be loved, accepted and show a willingness to pursue almost anything to experience this? Even the woman caught in adultery? Who doesn’t have a past or who hasn’t made a poor choice that they just want to be forgiven for?
In Scripture the scenes are often very different to the scenes of our lives. The locations are different. The actual behaviour might be unlike our own. Yet, there are so much of our yearnings, and questions, which are found in these pages. Maybe we’ll find ourselves here if we stop and spend some time.
I suspect we might find something else as well.
A better story. Not just a resonance with our yearnings, but a better life. Not perfect. Not without pain. Just better. An encounter with Jesus radically changed the course of life for both the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery. David’s fundamental identity and purpose in life was only really found in God. As a result of their encounters with God, they all lived better stories.
Movies are great, but next time you want to find yourself and a better life, spend some time in the pages of the Bible. You might just discover a better story.