The Bible displays an Upper Story and a Lower Story.
The Upper Story tells the big picture, the grand narrative of a loving God seeking relationship with mankind as it unfolds throughout history.
The Lower Story contains the details of particular people, the episodes we’ve become familiar with: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood… even our own stories.
This Upper Story is really a framework around which we approach and apply any one part of the Bible. It unifies God’s whole message to us and helps guide us through the difficult times in life by doing two things:
- Reminding us of God’s eternal, long-range plan and,
- Putting our experiences into a divine context formed by a perfect, loving Creator.
God’s agenda in the Upper Story is to reach every man, woman and child, all around the world, with His grace and truth. Eternity with God is a divine party; a celebration to end all celebrations and God doesn’t want anyone to miss it.
Our agenda in the Lower Story tends to be comfort and enjoyment. Such longings are not inherently wrong or evil, but they seldom serve to advance God’s Upper Story agenda. And quite often, they are directly opposed to it.
Jesus’ death on the cross could be described with many words, but comfort and enjoyment would not be among them. Yet He endured such pain and agony to fulfill His part in advancing the Father’s Upper Story agenda.
So, by putting all we read from Scripture into the larger picture, we can make modern-day applications that take into account the grand, mysterious ways of God, and guards us from misapplication that can result from an isolated “what this verse says to me” approach. In other words, the Upper Story creates the context for the Lower Story.
For example, without the Upper Story, a lost job could be seen as an event without hope. But put into the context of the larger chronicle of our lives, and God’s perfect design, that lost job can be seen in a very different light, perhaps as an opportunity for God to advance His kingdom agenda.
So when you seek to understand something from the Bible, or the events and circumstances of your life, remember… there is a bigger, Upper Story being written into which the smaller details fit.
We may not always understand how they fit, but we can trust the One who is writing The Story!
If you’re journeying with us through The Story then read Chapter One this week. If you’ve not heard about The Story you can check it out by clicking on the page tab above.