Murray and Carol 1976

The Meta-Narrative of Life

The idea of "meta-narrative" is simply the big-picture, the over-arching story in which the experiences of life makes most sense, and which provides the context in which we best understand the disparate experiences of our lives.

The Basic Story

The Bible is essentially the story of God's redemptive mission to a people in trouble - a love and rescue story - freeing us from the dominion of Satan.

In it's briefest form the story goes like this:

God created the universe out of his goodness and desire to express his love in covenant relationship with humanity, which God loves beyond understanding.

Despite God's love, humanity chose independence from God, putting him and herself at the centre leaving God out, with almost endless negative consequences. In this foolish decision, humanity in fact played into the hands of Satan who in rebellion against God, seeking to destroy God's creation and if possible take God's place.

(The image of an "occupied" world comes to mind. The earth, made good and beautiful by God who loves his universe, is occupied by evil forces as in a war where an army occupies a land to which it has no right. This image is one frequently experienced in history, both in a military and in a cultural sense, including by my parents in Europe during World War II...more here.)

True, Satan doesn't "fight fair," including the use of "false flag" techniques, deception, betrayal and much more. Therefore we frequently experience life as "not being fair," and this experience confuses many. As a result many people are angry with God, blaming Him for the actions of Satan, (which is of course the goal of 'false flag' techniques).

Rather than ignoring us or saying "serves them right," God chose a slave-people out of Egypt, showing them grace and seeking to help them enter into right relationship with Him by which they might bring God's restorative covenant to all the earth. The Old Testament of the Bible tells the story of the people of Israel's struggle to grasp God's gracious purpose.

Into this context God entered the world in Jesus Christ to fulfill His gracious restorative purposes, overcome sin and it's consequences and lay the foundations for a new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells. God in Christ took the initiative and did this for us, when we were ultimately powerless to set things right, through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, defeating death and Satan's right to rule over God's creation.

In cooperating and sharing in this work of restoration, those who acknowledge Christ follow him into mission - participating in God's victory in Christ over sin and death, and through Christ in the restoration of all things. Doing so is challenging, but God's Holy Spirit comforts and empowers us.

The battle with Satan is not yet over in that he continues to resist, but the outcome is sure. For this reason we see both the results of Satan's effort to turn God's paradise into a prisoner of war camp, and the Glory of God's original unchanging holy purpose for righteousness, beauty and good - sometimes in the same day!

At the end of history Christ will return to end Satan's pseudo-reign, restore all things (Revelation 11:15), giving grace to those who have recognized their need of Him. The wishes of those who reject God's offer of salvation will also be honoured.

The Bible summarizes the grace of God in many times and places including:

"The Lord Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Galatians 1:4-5)

This "meta-narrative" does not explain every detail of God's work or the day-to-day events our lives, but it is true and provides a context for our worldview and the themes by which we can better understand our lives - e.g. "life as relationship with God", "life as redemptive process," "life as mission", "life as struggle against evil."

The Biblical "meta-narrative" also shapes how we face difficulties; e.g. give strong reasons to be basically life-affirming rather than pessimistic, reasons to be motivated by God's love rather than self-centeredness.

My encouragement to you is to read and meditate on the Bible's account of God's mission to the world often.