What do you, your dog, Woody Allen, C.S. Lewis, football, and the Swiss Alps – even cats – tell us about God’s plan for the world? You might be surprised 🙂
God is telling a story. Are you listening?
We’re all searching for significance–something deeper, richer, and bigger than what we can see in our unremarkable, everyday routines. The greatest news we can hear is that God has a very real purpose for everything in this life. In The Story of Everything, Jared Wilson explores the redemptive story that God is telling in and through the world, helping us play our part in his ultimate plan to make all things new.
I have said for many years now that all stories point back to The Story, that is the story of God’s plan for the world. In The Story of Everything, Jared C. Wilson not only reiterates this idea but backs it up with illustrations from society, science, entertainment, and of course the Bible. Wilson teaches this concept – that every facet of life has to do with God and our part in His Story – thoroughly and with a wry wit that keeps it from becoming too academic. He also tells us what to do about it – how to live as people who are aware that this isn’t all there is.
His chapters cover everything from The Game of Thrones (God’s plan for nations) to Non-Trivial Pursuit (God’s plan for art, science, and work) to God’s plan for evil, fun, romance/marriage/sex, and the afterlife. Before he embarks on that ambitious journey, he spends a lot of (well-spent) time focusing on how it all begins and why you have to understand that before you can understand your place in The Story.
One thing that stood out to me the most – one of the truths that I know will linger with me long after I’ve moved on to the next book – is this: “[God’s Story] starts with a conclusion – ‘It was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). And it ends with a beginning – ‘Behold, I am making all things new’ (Revelation 21:5). And it’s these bookends that help us see how the big story…impacts all the little stories under heaven.” To further emphasize the point, the first chapter of The Story of Everytihng is titled “Conclusion”; the last – “Introduction”.
Other gems? There were quite a few –
- Grace is the secret of the universe.
- …following the plot of Matthew 10:39, if we are willing to lose our storylines for God’s sake, we will actually find them.
- The hope of the world is not America, but Jesus.
- The story is not about us, but it is for us!
- Pain for those who trust Christ is not pointless.
Oh… that one I needed. You see, I live with constant physical pain. The doctors don’t know what causes it, so they can’t fix it. It’s been a long and discouraging two and a half years of miserable days and restless nights, of medical bills and invasive tests and no answers to show for the empty bank account or the discomfort. Some days, the pain feels pointless. I feel pointless. This next quote from the same chapter really just washed over me and settled in my heart. I don’t know if anyone else but me needs to hear this, but just in case:
Bottom Line: Jared Wilson covers a whole lot of topics in The Story of Everything, but he covers them with wit and a conversational style that’s (mostly) easy to understand. Occasionally he throws in words like “conflate” and “exigete” but the majority of the book is accessible for those of who didn’t go to seminary 😉 There are some very profound and important truths explained in these pages in ways that you may not have considered before. I particularly thought the chapter which discussed a Christian’s approach to politics should be read in every church on every Sunday from now until the election – and then it probably wouldn’t hurt to continue reminding us. (Spoiler alert: Politics can become a god. Don’t let it.) This would be a great small group resource, as well as an imperative book to read for anyone who often finds themselves in a capacity to teach The Story.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it
About the Author:
Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and managing editor of the seminary’s website for gospel-centered resources, For the Church. He is a popular author and conference speaker, and also blogs regularly at Gospel Driven Church hosted by the Gospel Coalition. His books include Your Jesus Is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, Gospel Deeps, The Pastor’s Justification, The Storytelling God, and The Wonder-Working God.
Jared is not a catalytic “agent of change” or a visionary anything. He is a failed church planter and once made a mess of his marriage. He likes food too much and worries way too much about what people think, and he’s definitely not all that he’s cracked up to be. After 20 years of ministry, he’s mainly learned that he’s kind of a nincompoop. But he knows Jesus loves him.
Jared blogs at The Gospel-Driven Church.
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