(or The Bible, Simplified)
Once upon a time, in a place not so very far away, there lived an Author. Now, this Author loved to create things, so He created a vast universe and filled it with stars and moons, asteroids and planets.
This is the Story of just one of those planets. We call it Earth.
In the beginning, there was no beginning, just as there will be no end, at the end. Earth was nothing more than an idea in the Mind of the Author. But what an idea! It took shape slowly, mostly water to start, but later He added land and trees and flowers. But it still needed something, so the Author added living creatures, birds and elephants and aardvarks and sharks.
But still, something was missing. So the Author created a creature much like Himself, and called it Man.
Every good story must have a protagonist, so the Author created two creatures, male and female. We call them Adam and Eve. But every good story must also have an antagonist, so the Author created the serpent.
Every author knows that once a story is started, it sometimes takes on a life of its own, and that is what happened on Earth. Man was deceived by the serpent into thinking they were God, and a long stretch of battles between the various protagonists and the antagonist began.
But, did you notice that I used the plural in naming the protagonists and the singular in naming the antagonist? That is because the protagonists change throughout the millennium, but though the antagonist changes names, he remains the same. We call him satan.
Drama. Every good story has drama. This particular drama takes place in what we now call the Middle East. Other stories were written in other parts of Earth, but we shall concern ourselves with just this one.
To continue, after a while, the Author decided that Man was really messing up His creation. He wasn’t taking care of it at all. The Author had written Earth to be a beautiful place, and Man began to treat it like a trash heap, and each other like garbage. It was time to sweep it all away, and start over.
But the Author rather liked His creation Man. So, He looked around and spotted Noah and Noah’s family. He liked what He saw. He spoke with Noah and directed him to build an ark so that he and his family and the creatures of the Earth would be spared.
Noah complied, though his neighbors thought he was crazy. A flood covered the whole earth, and Noah cried to see his friends and neighbors washed away.
After the flood, Noah and his family repopulated the Earth. The Author was sorry He had destroyed everything, and vowed to never to it again. He even created a rainbow to remind Man of His promise. Sometimes later, though, He was sorry He had ever made that promise, because it seemed as though Man hadn’t learned a darn thing. They continued to treat Earth like a trash heap, and each other like garbage.
Protagonists came and went. The Author was particularly fond of David, and of Ruth, Samson, and Isaac. The Author filled His Book with stories of hate and anger, heroism and courage, betrayal and death, but also with kindness and with love. Often Man would stumble and fall, and fail. The Author was always willing to give Man a second chance to get it right, and a third, and a fourth, and more, if need be. He wasn’t willing that any should perish.
The Author tried in many ways to get Man’s attention. He sent Prophets to spread warning, begging Man to turn once again to the One who created them. Sometimes, it worked, but often, not.
Now, the Author had a Son. One day the Author and the Son were sitting around, shooting the breeze, when the Author said, “Son, I’ve got a job for You.”
“Sure,” the Son answered. “What is it?”
“I need you to go down to Earth and straighten things out.”
The Son thought for a moment, then said, “They won’t listen to me. I’ll scare them. They’re even afraid of angels, and I’m just like You.”
“So, You’ll go down as one of them,” the Author replied. “Maybe then they’ll listen to You.”
“But, You’ll be with me, right? I mean, these people can be brutal.”
“Yes, I’ll be with You, every step of the way. Except….”
“It’s a bigger task than just being a messenger. I’ve sent messengers before and that doesn’t seem to work. I want You to die down there, and in the process, I want You to take all their sin away.”
“All of it?”
“Yes, all of it.”
“Kind of drastic, isn’t it? I mean, what if they won’t listen? What if they won’t believe?”
“You leave that to Me,” the Author said. “But here, look at this.” And He showed His Son all that He had written about His Son’s time here on Earth.
“Okay,” the Son said. “I’ll do whatever You say.”
So the Son came to Earth as a baby, born to a virgin named Mary. He grew up and began to teach about His Father, the Author of all Mankind. It didn’t end well for the Son. He made a lot of people mad, and He was crucified and died a horrible death.
Now, in many stories, this would be the end. But not in this Story. In this Story, the death of the Son was just the beginning. You see, after the Son’s earthly demise, He took a trip. He went to where the souls of the people who had never heard of Him or His Father before they died were kept, and He told them all about the Author.
Then, He came back to Earth, alive again, just so the folks here would know that He was the real deal. Many believed and were saved. And that story of redemption, forgiveness, and love has been repeated every single day since then.
The Author had already written the ending of the Book, but as every author knows, you can’t just write a beginning and an ending with no middle. So the Author wrote a middle.
New protagonists came and went: Mary and Martha, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter and Paul, Martin Luther, John Wesley, George Fox and Margaret Fell, John Newton, Billy Graham, C. S. Lewis, and many, many others. The Author created many characters that lived their lives in small towns and villages that nobody ever heard of, but were just as important as the big names.
We haven’t reached the end of the Book yet. We’re still somewhere in the middle. But the Author keeps writing, keeps creating, keeps telling the Story. And somehow, knowing I’m a part of the Author’s Story makes my little story worthwhile.