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The Bible is packed with an amazing range of people, each with their own life stories and perspectives on the world. Reflecting on how God spoke through them - and to them - can help us connect Scripture with our own lives today.

We all have our own unique life story, with particular highs and lows. Every one of us experiences things differently and has distinct ways of making sense of the world. What’s important to us, how we see ourselves and why we act as we do is what makes us individuals.

The same goes for the people mentioned in the Bible. Each had their own individual personalities and reacted to God, to life - and to each other – very differently. For example, the gospels tell us that even Jesus wept, slept, got tired, became angry, felt scared, showed love and experienced joy. (Mark 3.5; 10.21; 14.33; Luke 10.21; John 4.6; 11.35). So the stories of Scripture – inspired by God – still connect with us on a very human level.

Of course, the people in the Bible didn’t have to deal with traffic jams, online fraud, remembering to put the recycling out - or many other features of our world today. But they did grapple with the life experiences that affect us all, such as relationship ups and downs, trying to make a living, having children, growing old, getting on with the neighbours, keeping warm in winter and a vast range of health problems without the NHS to consult.

Not only that, many of the complex life stories that are included in the Bible make for fascinating reading – and wouldn’t look out of place in a tabloid newspaper! Consider:

Another way of connecting your story to the biblical story involves considering what you do for a living. In the Middle Ages, it was common for towns to stage pageants through the streets on the feast of Corpus Christi. During these processions, members of trade guilds (such as weavers and butchers) would perform biblical plays on parade floats. Each guild usually chose a story that related to their craft.

For example, the shipbuilders often performed the story of Noah’s Ark. The bakers might perform a play based on the Miracle of the Loaves. And the fishmongers liked to act out the story of Jonah and the Whale. These pageants helped people connect Scripture with their everyday working lives. Discovering a biblical story that speaks to your working life can be a great way of making the Bible relevant today.

Case Study When Simon met Simon

We showed Simon, who works for a disability charity, that one easy way in to the Bible was to start with the story of just one person – in his case, his namesake Simon Peter. Despite being a busy dad, he decided to give it a go. ‘I started with Mark’s gospel - which is said to be Peter’s version of events,’ he says. ‘I found Simon Peter to be a wonderful character with great faith and ideals, but also very relatable,’ he added. So how did he find the experience? Despite discovering that his plans to read Scripture in the mornings didn’t always work out, he persevered and got the benefit. Simon said: ‘The Bible as a physical volume can be quite daunting, but I found reading the gospels like this really helped to bring it back to a human level. I would 100% encourage others to try it.’

 

The Bible is a rich resource of relationships and shows us time and again that humanity hasn’t changed that much. We learn a lot from Bible characters – they can encourage us in our daily discipleship. Keeping their memory alive is a powerful way to share our faith, doubts, hopes and fears as we seek to know Christ more deeply.

Here are some other ideas on how you might make a connection between your life story and the stories and wisdom of Scripture:

Start with a prayer

God of my story and all our stories,
You created us in your own image -
and wrote us into being.
The Bible tells us your story
so that we may praise you
throughout our lives.
Amen

The parables of Jesus in the gospels are timeless stories that touch on many aspects of human nature. They’re easy routes into the Bible for beginners. Within the stories, you’ll find desperation, anger, love, sorrow, forgiveness, carelessness, selfishness, persistence and kindness. Try one out today!

The story goes that one priest helped his parishioners in Liverpool to appreciate the social divide in the Parable of the Good Samaritan by recasting the characters as belonging to the rival football teams of the city – Everton and Liverpool! Replacing names in the Bible with ones you are more familiar with – e.g. the names of your town, your neighbours or even famous people can sometimes help to bring the meaning home.

Like members of the medieval guilds, finding a story that connects with your working life can be an interesting entry point into the Bible. For example, if you’re a hairdresser, you might find the story of Samson and Delilah an inspiration (1 Samuel chapter 16). If you’re an accountant, perhaps the book of Numbers is the one for you. Or if you’re a student, you could check out the story of Daniel, who studied for three years (Daniel chapter 1).

Finding a character in Scripture that appeals to your personality is another way in. If you’re creative, you might like to find out about a musician such as David or a dreamer such as Joseph. If you’re into politics and social justice, you might find the prophets – who often spoke out - interesting reading. Or if you love common sense the Psalmists and Wisdom writers might be up your street. If you enjoy learning, perhaps a scholar like Solomon or Ezra might inspire you.

There are many fascinating men and women in the Bible that you may not have heard of. Check out stories of women such as the judge Deborah (Judges chapter 4 & 5), first-time mother Hannah (1 Samuel chapters 1 & 2) or Queen Esther of Persia (Esther 2:5-18). In terms of men, take a look at the stories of the farmer Laban (Genesis chapters 29-32), the politician Nehemiah (Nehemiah chapter 1) or the soldier Judas Maccabeus (1 Maccabees 3:1-26).

While Scripture doesn’t go into detail about leisure activities, it does include stories that you might relate to your personal interests. These include dancing (Exodus 15:20), music (1 Chronicles 25:1-8), history (Psalm 78:1-4), caring for animals (Proverbs 12:10), interior design (Proverbs 24:3-4), astronomy (Isaiah 40:26), learning languages (Daniel 1:1-5), science (Wisdom 7:15-22), athletics (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) and exercise (1 Timothy 4:8).

The Bible covers the whole of life, from cradle to grave. Within its pages you’ll find passages relating to childhood (1 Samuel chapter 3; Proverbs 1:8; Mark 10:13-16), young adulthood (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; Proverbs 20:29: 1 Timothy 4:12), married life (1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:21-33; Hebrews 13:4), parenthood (Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Colossians 3:21), singleness (Acts 21:8-9; 1 Corinthians 7:7-9; 32-35) and older age (Ruth 4:13-16; Ecclesiasticus 25:4-6; Luke 2:25-38).

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