How many times have you been watching a movie or reading a book and thought, “Wow, the theme of this story is pulled directly from the Bible!” Or is that just me? I can’t help but see the connections between the Greatest Story Ever Told (the Bible) and the plot of Avengers…or Frozen…or Little Women. Many movies and books are based on the idea that a hero or heroine comes in and saves others by some sacrificial act. In Mean Girls, Cady Heron had to sacrifice popularity to provide an equal standing ground among the females at North Shore High. Obviously, the plot of Mean Girls is nowhere close to Jesus sacrificing himself to save the world, but the theme of sacrifice is present, and as stories go, the theme of sacrificial love is one that speaks to a variety of audiences. Jesus’s example of ultimate, sacrificial love is a theme that has rang true for artists throughout time. Even if people are unfamiliar with Jesus and his death and resurrection, they are still drawn to a theme of sacrificial love. People get it and identify with it. In a small way, our connection to sacrificial love displays humanity’s connection to the Spirit of God.
Sacrifice, among other themes, often relates back to the Bible. God, the ultimate and original creator, utilizes such literary tools such as symbolism, imagery, and paradoxes when he inspired the writings of the Bible. The connection between art and the Bible runs deep. Many terms that we see in theater and movies were first found in the Bible. Artists, writers of books and plays, and cinematographers often use tools similar to those found in the Bible to get their points across in the most creative way.
Symbolism is everywhere in the Bible! One such symbol that some of the women of Restoration Church have seen as they study through Isaiah is the symbol of trees. Isaiah 11:1 says, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” This symbolism of a tree is foreshadowing the coming of Jesus! Think also of the tree of life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree that Zacchaeus climbed up to get a glimpse of Jesus, and finally, the tree that our King hung on until his final breath.
The paradox of being part of the kingdom of God as believers and waiting for “kingdom come” is a great one to ponder over. “The already, not yet” is a phrase you will hear Christians say when referring to the finished work of Jesus dying on the cross, raising from the dead and defeating death, and bringing us into the kingdom family. Yet, we wait for the day when Jesus returns in the end times, defeating Satan once and for all, and bringing God’s kingdom to full fruition. This is “the already, not yet” paradox that we faithfully live in.
And if you want imagery - check out Revelation. The mental images that God lays out in the last book of the Christian canon are jarring and beautiful. The description of the River of Life in Revelation 22 is especially alluring to me:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal,
flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street
of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of
the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and
of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They need no
light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever
God not only inspires specific writing elements to display his divine revelation, but the whole Bible is a giant story that ebbs and flows through generations all awaiting the One, True King. This story is told in the most artistic way because God is the Artist. To look at the Bible through the lens of literary elements and theatrical tools is another way to stand in awe of the Creator, the Artist. We think of God as being the one who created all physical beings, but he also created the way our minds think. The Bible being the God-breathed writings of the Creator displays his love of art and language. He paints pictures with his words and with his mighty acts. Think about it – how many times could God have done something simple instead of the artistic displays of his power that we see poured out all over the Bible. For example, when the Israelites were leaving Egypt in the book Exodus, God could have had his Spirit surrounding them without any visible evidence. But, no – God, the Creator, led them out prominently by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). How artistic and creative!
God is the perfect Creator and Artist. We, as humans, do our best to try to create moving pieces of art, but we can never out-do what God has done and continues to do. We can see his splendor throughout all the earth and as his image-bearers he created us to be creators and artists ourselves. The next time you read a book, go to a museum, or watch a play or movie, try to connect the themes and tools of God’s creativity that he so perfectly bestows upon us in the Bible. I bet you won’t be able to not see the connections between the One True Story and all the others that try to mimic it.
Written by: Carrie Erickson