A Story of Transformation
Glen Keane may not be that well known to you, but his work likely is. He’s one of the many animators at Disney. He brings all sorts of animals, characters, and even objects—who could ever forget the broomsticks in Sorcerer’s Apprentice?—to life. Among his many credits stands his animation for Beauty and the Beast. As he sketched the frames of the transformation of the beast into the prince, he was guided by a verse from Scripture.
Written out and taped across the top of his desk was 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” At an in-house meeting at Disney just before the release of the movie, Glen Keane shared about what inspired him as he worked and as he crafted the images that would depict the scene where he turned the beast into the prince. It was, he said, nothing more than his attempt to depict the transformation brought about by Christ, the transformation that takes a sinful human being, a beast, and transforms him into a prince—a transformation in which the old passes away and the new, the all-new, comes.
This story of transformation, of redemption, is the greatest story ever. Versions of this story of redemption pop up all over culture. You’ll find them in movies like Beauty and the Beast, in books, and in songs. Who doesn’t want to see the fallen hero restored? Who doesn’t hold out for redemption? Who doesn’t want to see the beast transformed? The Bible gives us the ultimate story of transformation. It is not just the story of my transformation or yours. The Bible tells the story of our transformation.
The Bible gives us the ultimate story of transformation.
A Story of Significance
We all love a good story. God has full wisdom and perfect understanding of us. He knows exactly what we need. So he gave us stories. The Bible is one grand story by, from, and, ultimately, about God. What we have stumbled upon here in the Bible is the greatest story of all time. It’s the story of redemption, the story of God calling out and making a people for himself. It is also a true story, the truest of them all. What can be better than that?
Well, there is one thing. The story of the Bible is not only the greatest story and not only the truest story. It is also the only story that makes sense of our lives. To put it another way, the Bible has existential significance. The Bible gives meaning to all our lives and to every inch of our lives. It alone makes sense of what happens to us. The Bible alone makes sense of all the confounding and confusing things we experience.
Stories played a crucial role in ancient cultures. As people gathered around the fire, the older generation would tell stories to the younger. They would tell these stories to entertain—even ancient people had challenges in putting the kids to bed. They would tell these stories to instruct, to explain how various people were to act in the culture, to explain the roles they were to play. And in the telling of these stories they would know of their place in the tribe and their place in the universe. The oral traditions and folklore were transmitting a worldview, a sense of the self. By learning these stories ancient peoples could find their own place in the world. The Bible is far more than an oral tradition, eventually written down, and passed from generation to generation. As we said above, the Bible stands out among all traditions, among all texts, among all stories because it is true.
The Bible is a unique story by a unique Author, God. And because it is God’s story, it is true. And because it is true, it gives us a true account of the world and of our place in it. As we listen to the Bible’s story, we begin to understand where we fit in and how the moments in our lives and the things around us fit together. We begin to make sense of our world and of our lives when we understand the story. The Bible is a great story. It is a true story. It is the story that makes sense of us, of every moment, whether those moments are utterly confounding or seemingly insignificant.
This excerpt was adapted from Welcome to the Story: Reading, Loving, & Living God’s Word by Stephen J. Nichols.