The Bible is a drama that tells the story of life — and life is made meaningful by relationships. Quite simply, the Bible is a book about relationships.
A story of relationships
At its core, the Bible offers wisdom for relationships and life. Through narratives, historical records, letters, poetry, and songs, the Bible offers guidance on how we can relate to ourselves, to others, and to God.
Ultimately the Bible tells the story of God pursuing a relationship with people. It is a story of God working to restore a broken relationship between himself and humanity.
Creation of relationship
In the beginning, God created the planet and populated it with life. He decided to place something of his own self into this world, so he made human beings in his own image and breathed his own breath into them, giving them life. He created people to live in close relationship with himself — a relationship that brings true, satisfying, lasting life.
Breaking of relationship
But these first humans, being free to love, broke the relationship when they chose to turn away from God — they chose instead to live independently of God, trying to find meaningful life and relationship in their own ways.
The consequence they suffered from being separated from God — the Author of life — was a physical, emotional, and spiritual death. Their disconnection and broken relationship with God had a deteriorating effect on their sense of self, their relationship with other people, and with creation around them.
They tried to find life in relationships with other people and things. Their imperfect attempts at life were a mere shadow of God’s intended design for a life of whole and healthy relationships.
Creation of a new nation
Despite the pain of rejection, God still loved the people he created. He longed for them to experience the deep relationship with himself that he originally purposed for them to enjoy. So he provided a solution by creating a nation through which he would bless all of humankind. God promised to Abram, a Semitic shepherd, that he would be the father of a family whose descendants would bring spiritual blessing to the world. This nation would be known as Israel.
God wanted this emerging nation’s relationships — their relationship to him as their God, their relationships with each other, and with the world around them — to be ethical, moral, just, and pure. He desired to establish this nation to reflect his own ethical, moral, just, and pure nature.
God guided Israel to a new land of their own (east of the Mediterrenean) to be established in their existence as a nation and to grow in their relationship with God as his people.
A rocky relationship
Over the next several hundred years, they struggled to remain faithful to God. They experienced downward spirals of chaos during the times they practiced unfaithfulness, often influenced by poor leadership of various kings. Eventually the spiral resulted in the exile of the nation.
Despite the wandering heart of Israel, God continued to love them. Through messages delivered by special spiritual leaders called prophets, God reminded them of his promises to return them to their land, rebuild their nation, and restore their heart focus and relationship with God.
Hope for restored relationships
Through the lineage of this nation, God himself stepped into humanity and history to ultimately restore relationships — he came in the flesh in the person of Jesus. The life of Jesus — God’s own Son — showed people what good relationships looked like through the way he lived and interacted with others and with God his Father. He came to teach, heal, and be the way for people to relate to God.
Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God — a revolutionary way of living where counterintuitive principles, like loving your enemies and feeding the poor, would bring real restoration to relationships and the world.
Jesus came to live the perfect, righteous, and pure life required to be close with God — a life that humans simply could not live out of their own heart, effort, and goodness. He willingly chose to suffer a brutal innocent death that absorbed and paid for the wrongs of the whole human race.
On the third day after his burial, his tomb was found empty. He conquered death and came back to life, offering the possibility for all people to enter into a life of restored relationship with God — true, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. Those who witnessed his resurrection brought the good news of this new kingdom and life to the entire world.
In a nutshell, the story of the Bible involves God creating people for a lasting life of relationship with him, only to have people reject him many times in many ways. It is a story of God working throughout history to restore that broken relationship through the life of Jesus.