- Catherine Black
What's the Bible All About? YA Author Sara Ella's Answer
Think back to your last English class. Probably at some point in the semester, you were required to write a summary of a book or short story you'd read. And if you’re like most of the students I’ve had over the years, you didn’t love that assignment.
Boiling down any text to its bare bones, to its core, is tricky. Why are there so many words if it can be boiled down to a one-sentence thematic statement?
If you’ve ever had to complete an assignment like this, you know how hard it is. You may also agree that nonfiction is sometimes harder to summarize than fiction. Fiction has a plot. It has a resolution. Nonfiction explores ideas and people and places and themes, but not always in a plot-driven way.
The Bible is nonfiction, but it is also a story. It is the story of the Bible that resonates inside all of us, and today’s guest author, Sara Ella, captures this reality in her exploration of why fiction matters and how it can actually help us understand the whole of scripture and help us summarize the entire story of the Bible.
Think about what you’d say if a stranger asked you, “What’s the Bible all about?”
Just like a brilliant and creative mind would, YA author Sara Ella answers with something truly magical. See how she summarizes the Bible below.
There Really Is a Happily Ever After
The Bible is full of inspiring stories that help us understand and see the deeper things that God has for us. Jesus himself told fictional stories in His parables, relaying truths in a way his audience could relate to and understand.
My husband loves to ask our youngest daughter this question: “What is the whole story of the Bible?” To which she responds, “Slay the dragon. Save the princess.”
That’s us. We as Christians are the princess. And Jesus died to save us. I think we all know who the dragon is.
Fictional stories are some of the best tools we have for sharing the beautiful truth of Jesus’ love with others. Stories make us feel certain things and think about those things in a way that nothing else can.
Look at The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and so many other stories in which the same themes are present—light over darkness. Good over evil. Sacrificial love. Consequences for wrongdoing. And on and on it goes.
There is something so beautiful about allegory. About Aslan and Edmund. Frodo and Sam. I could tell you about what sacrifice means or what true friendship and love look like. Or I could show you through a story.
As writers, we have an incredible opportunity to tug on the hearts of our readers. To introduce them to Jesus in a new and powerful way that maybe they haven’t seen before. I hope my stories plant a seed for them that will one day grow into a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.
- Sara Ella, award-winning YA author
How Stories Point Us to THE Story
I don’t know about you, but I want to go pick up a fairy tale and read it. Like right now.
I love Sara’s words on how fiction introduces people to Jesus. That’s such an incredible way of looking at fiction! Let’s be clear: we’re not talking about fiction in place of the Bible as a means of meeting Jesus. But when it comes to celebrating His love and doing what we can to tell others about it, stories are a powerful way to do that.
As Sara pointed out, Jesus told stories.
Let’s just think about that for a minute. The God who made the universe, gave light to the stars and emotion to the human heart, chose to communicate eternal truths with simple stories.
There is something so humbling about that. Jesus knew His creation loved stories. He also knew that truth can be bound up in a story and then examined, explored, and discussed for millennia.
Isn’t that amazing? The parable of the sower. The parable of the persistent widow. The parable of the prodigal son.
Stories we are still examining, exploring, and discussing.
This is the power of story.
Truth Through Story
Writers, as Sara Ella knows so well, get the amazing joy of taking part in something our Savior Himself did: telling truth through stories.
We have the incredible responsibility of using words to point others to THE story. The first story, the ultimate story, the only story that really matters.
We get to tell the same story, in a thousand ways and a thousand voices, that delights Sara Ella’s daughter and points her to Jesus: Slay the dragon. Save the princess.
I think now we know why the world will never tire of good stories. We’ll never tire of hearing that the dragon will be defeated and that the princess will be saved. Maybe not in the way we imagined, but ultimately, the King will defeat the dragon and He will have his bride, perfect and complete, forever.
As Neil Gaiman, famously paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton, once wrote: “Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”
Now, go read a book and be amazed at how it shows these simple, powerful truths.
And if you want to go the extra step, consider writing a note or an email or a message on your favorite social app to an author whose books have shown you truth. It would mean so much to them.
If you liked this article, you’d also like this one from author and graphic designer Rhia G. Adley on finding truth in fiction. She takes Paul’s advice from Acts 17 and applies that to writing stories. It’s something I’d never thought of before and worth considering.