Plot – the skeleton of every story, both fictional and historic, is the plot. Every story has a plot, for without one it wouldn’t be a story. At its most simple, a plot consists in a tension eventually resolved. A tension is created in the context of an imaginable situation. Somehow that tension is then resolved, or left uncomfortably unresolved in some examples. Our primary task as we interpret a story is to grapple with its main point, as it grapples with us, and that main point will be tied into the resolution to the tension (or a comment on it).
People – every story has characters, and those characters are people (either in human form, or sometimes personified). People engage us, for we too, are people. So we identify with one character, but disassociate from another. We can’t help ourselves. Well told story will always engage us, whether it is from the cinematographer’s projector, or from the pulpit.
In – here’s the key word, in. The characters are in real life situations, living in response to a real God. We listeners find ourselves in their shoes, and they in ours. We enter into stories. Stories enter into us. We live life in stories, and every decision we make, we make in response to our God – how we view Him, how we perceive His love toward us, etc. Every story of our week is somehow shaped by how we have been captured by the story of our God entering in to the story of humanity.
If we view Bible stories as mere illustrative material, then we are blinded, not only to the richness of God’s Word, but also to the reality of God’s world in which we live.