We keep looking for the details to drive our lives. We have a natural drive to simplicity, to strip out messiness and follow clear lines. This is reasonable. It is also well documented in research on why people don’t make good decisions – because even at the level of our brains we try and simplify rather than nuance our choices. So its not surprising that this mindset creeps into our faith. And it is re-inforced by many other dynamics, eg

a) the use of Sunday schools to “teach” faith – which inevitably means stripping out compexity as we try and teach kindergarten aged children (actually aged 5 to 14) what amounts to moralism.

b) The cramming of faith into an hour of didactic transfer on a Sunday, disconnected from the flow of life, and generalised to reach every age, gender, learning style and walk of life. Of course we want he preacher to keep it simple!

All of these dynamics – and many more – have conspired to reinforce what is the foundational issue, however. And that is that, (mis)guided by hundreds of years of education and science that the hard, specififiable rule-based bits are what matter, we think faith is a matter of rule-based obedience. The “narrow gate” is the tightness of the rules we have to meet to satisfy an angry God.

Stopping to hover at the 1000 foot level over the Bible, however, we note something extraordinary. That the way God has chosen to talk to us is NOT through specifications. The Bible is actually full of stories. Its almost end to end stories. Even Pauls “teaching stuff” is actually story-laden – about his struggles, about the particular located communities he was interacting with and their struggles.

Why Stories? Because stories are the best way to help someone understand what you mean when you give really big principles to live by. Requirements, not specifications.

God’s requirements have remarkable continuity: Love the Lord with all your heart , mind and strength, love your neighbour. Old Testament, New Testament, JHWH and Jesus, all say these are the biggies that all else flows from. Of course Jesus made the fulfillment of requirements possible ….

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