Biblical narratives spark differing reactions. I just had a conversation with someone who preaches periodically. I mentioned the subject of my seminar this weekend and he responded that he loves preaching on that kind of passage. Yet others seem to avoid narratives, especially Old Testament narratives, at all costs. The difficulty for the avoiders is that there is so much narrative in the Bible. Ray Lubeck counts 44% of chapters as being predominantly narrative. Michael Rydelnik has a more general approach when he concludes that three-fourths of the Old Testament and half of the New Testament is narrative (more like 70% of the whole).
I think it is accurate to say that narratives are generally easy to read, but they can be hard to interpret accurately (we all like a good story, but that doesn’t mean we always “get it.”) As far as preaching is concerned, on one level they can be relatively easy to preach, but they are usually hard to preach well.
So the challenge today is two-fold.
1. For those who jump at the chance to preach narrative. Make sure you are really seeking to grasp the point of the story rather than merely making the easy moralistic observations that can easily jump out of such stories (we’ll address the various short-cuts to be wary of in the next few days), and strive not just to preach the narratives, but to preach them well.
2. For those who do gymnastics to avoid preaching a narrative. Take the plunge, they are so rich for both personal study and preaching. Take the hint, God inspired a lot of the Bible in narrative form. Take the opportunity to provide a more balanced diet for all who hear you.