There was a movie that came out a few years ago (The Bourne Identity), it was the first instalment of a trilogy about a guy named Jason Bourne. The main character, played by Matt Damon, finds he is suffering from amnesia; forgetting virtually everything about his life up until the point we meet up with him at the beginning of the film. The movie is essentially about him desperately trying to figure out his identity by piecing his life together based certain events and scenarios. At one point he’s sitting in a diner late one night with a girl he has just recently met and as he’s talking to her you can feel the frustration coming out in his voice.
[Paraphrasing] “I know the man at the counter is about 240 lbs., the waitress is left handed; I know where all the exits are; I know that the best place to look for a gun is in the glove compartment of the truck outside and that I can run flat out for half an hour at this altitude. How can I know all this and not know who I am?”
Here is a man who has been cut off from his story and cut off from the narrative of his life. And what we find in the pang of Jason Bourne’s frustration is familiarity; a stark realization that I know that frustration, I have felt that dissonance, I have felt that lonliness, I am Jason Bourne. I know the emptiness that hollows life out when you know all these different things you’re capable of doing and being, but lack the understanding of where you fit in the grand narrative of life. All of Jason’s actions were void of meaning because he could not place them in the on-going story of his life because he didn’t know it. His dilemma is often our dilemma: ‘who am I and what is my story?’
What ends up happening when we get to this point, asking this question, whether we’re conscious of it or not, is that we begin to construct a story for ourselves. Whether it’s adopting the story our parent’s passed down to us or developing our own based on systems of thought we’ve come into contact with, we try to find a narrative for our life in order to give meaning to the way we live it and the things we do. This narrative vastly affects the way we live our lives. Now for the past few centuries, western civilization has adopted the philosophy that each person creates their own stories that we all find our own meaning and we choose our own narrative and create our own purpose in life. As a follower of Christ however, we believe that our meaning is revealed to us by God our Creator. So we follow the bible and what it says about our story because we believe that the Grand Narrative that the bible is telling us is the only one that will give us our true purpose as human beings. This is why a study in Genesis is so paramount. It is the beginning of our story, the story of a God who creates people to have a relationship with.
Now if I understand myself to be a creation my life should be lived in a somewhat different manner than if I were to believe that I am the most recent stage of the evolutionary process. If I were to believe that entropy and other laws of physics win in the end and all of life decays and breaks down, my life would carry with it a drastically different meaning than if I would to believe in a God that has the ability to reverse the effects of entropy and chaos.
At the Story we as a community want to wrestle with the grand narrative that Scripture teaches us so that we can learn to live lives that embody a coherence with that narrative. So we continually go back and rehash and retell what God has revealed to us through scripture because we need to constantly be reminded of who we are.