There is something inherently intriguing about an epic story. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books (and films) are grand and sweeping narratives of which we simply cannot have enough. The highly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe is a collection of individual stories that connect and interplay over different periods, locations, and even mediums. Yet this is not new to humanity. Epic poetry (The Iliad, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Beowulf are examples)is one of the oldest forms of literature. Why is this fascination so prevalent among us?
We were made to know God’s story of redeeming humanity, which is the most epic tale of them all. Beginning with the perfect creation of the world, the narrative leads into the Fall, the source of the story’s conflict. Next, we are shown various battles in the great war before leading into the turning point of the conflict, Christ. Throughout the Old Testament, God calls His people to remember events like the Exodus because they point to His ultimate strategy for winning the overall conflict, Jesus. Through Jesus comes the act of recreation, of which He now uses us as instruments to advance the remaking of creation through His Son.
Sadly, we often fail to think big enough. The wonder of the book of Ephesians is that it seeks to capture the cosmic and eternal weight of our salvation and then apply it to our everyday lives. Yet we do our best to wiggle out of its clear teachings. Paul tells us not to make crude jokes, but we find excuses for why a particular joke or setting doesn’t violate that rule. Wives are told to submit to their husbands, but we make the home egalitarian because we have submitted ourselves to the world’s twisted definition of equality. Indeed, many Christians do not practice actual evangelism because they claim that they are witnessing to the non-Christians around them through their lifestyle. However, the lifestyle of many Christians looks nearly identical to the lifestyle of the world.
Our view is too small. We treat the commands of Scripture as a prescription for morality. But the world is also able to imitate a form of morality. If we buy the idea that Christianity is only supposed to make us moral, we will subsequently look out upon a relatively moral world around us and begin to question whether Christianity is truly necessary. The answer, instead, is that we must live according to God’s design. We are not called simply to morality; we are called to holiness, to conformity to God’s image and likeness. Holiness is a far more expansive calling than mere morality.
Psalm 143:5 summons us to look back at history in order to remind ourselves of God’s great plan and our great calling. When I remember the days of old, how can I not be led to worship a God who has involved me into His grand epic? How can I not rejoice in becoming a piece of God’s cosmic puzzle as He remakes and reclaims the universe that has always been His? When looking upon the battles that have already been fought (such as Abraham, David, Paul, and Luther), how can I not be called to holiness in the battle that He has for me, regardless of how insignificant it appears to be? May we often look back to the actions of our brothers and sisters in the faith, and may we gain courage by understanding that we merely one front in the cosmic war that our Lord is waging.