Seven Reasons to Tell Stories
When I sold my first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, I excitedly took it around to local Christian bookstores. One manager wouldn’t even consider my book despite other books in the line already being carried in his shop. He said, “Christians shouldn’t read romance. They should read politics.”
I pondered this for a while. Am I a bad Christian if I prefer fiction to politics? What would Jesus do?
Answer: Jesus would tell a parable.
“He was never without a story when he spoke” (Mark 4:34 MSG).
I kinda like this about him. I relate with God in the way that He is the Author of Life. If I want to become more like Jesus, a better storyteller, then I should dig into scripture to find out exactly why God wants stories to be told.
1. To Promote Praise
I went to a writer’s retreat with thoughts of a certain story on my heart, but I wasn’t sure whether it was something to pursue or not. I asked my writing partners to pray over the story idea, as well. On the last day at the retreat, I was praying in the shower and felt like God had an answer for me in the Bible. I got out of the shower, randomly opened my Bible, and this was the first verse I read:
“Let it be written for a future generation that a people not yet created my praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18).
2. To Honor
Not only do we honor God through stories, but he also honors us. My favorite is the story of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume. Many were upset and saw this as a waste, but Jesus wanted the world to see it differently.
“What she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9).
3. To Convict
Non-fiction is written specifically for those who know they have a problem to deal with, but sometimes we are blind to our own problems. This has been true of me, and it was true of King David. When Nathan confronted David about his infidelity, he did so with a story.
Just like in the Bible, God will use stories to reach us and, “…open our eyes to our own guilt.”
Let us be like David and respond with repentance when we are convicted, unlike the pharisees who only got angry. “They looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them” (Mark 12:!2).
4. To Give Meaning
Even non-fiction books use stories to explain their lessons, and this is actually an instruction from scripture.
“When your son asks, ‘What is the meaning of…the law?’ tell him we were slaves of Pharaoh…” This story is told repeatedly through the Bible to give our beliefs meaning.
5. Build Faith
Have you heard the saying that you can’t have a testimony without having a test? It’s so easy for people to get discouraged by their test and give up on God. That’s where telling our own personal stories can help.
“Tell your story—what the master did, how he had mercy on you” (Mark 5:18).
The apostle John also goes on and on about how there are so many other stories about Jesus that were never written down because a library could never hold that many books. He adds, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.”
6. To Warn
We all know the sayings about those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. That’s Biblical as are the stories told by prophets.
“These things were written down as warnings for us” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
7. To Teach
“He taught by using stories, many stories” (Mark 4:2 MSG).
“That’s why I tell stories; to create readiness to nudge the people toward receptive insight” (Matt 13:12 MSG)
Not everybody understood Jesus’s stories. Even the disciples often had to have help in understanding.
It’s this search for understanding that will draw us closer to God. And maybe that thought sums up all seven reasons in one.
I tell stories to point to Jesus.
And I’m really glad God has gifted me with the ability to do so rather than calling me into politics.