As a species, we’re kind of obsessed with love stories. They’re in everything we read, write, watch, and talk about. We can’t help but root for the guy to get the girl or for the girl to finally be noticed and for them to ride off into the sunset. And of the sub-categories of love stories, we especially love the ones where two people who used to hate each other somehow fall head-over-heels in love.

Now, obviously, rom coms are famously unrealistic, but maybe there is something we can learn from them when it comes to communicating the most beautiful truth we know of—the gospel.

Most of us approach the Bible as some sort of question-and-answer book or a moral and theological reference guide. Not sure if something is right or wrong? Look it up in the Bible. Wondering what happens when you die? Look it up in the Bible. Or we might see the Bible as a book full of history or prophecy.

One of the big problems with any of these approaches is that the readers often end up cherry-picking verses and passages to prove whatever they happen to already believe about God. Someone with an opposing opinion collects their own verses to do the same thing, and it becomes a battle of who can out-verse the other. 

But this is not the Bible’s intended purpose. There is moral instruction in the Bible, as well as history and theology and prophecy, but the Bible is not a book primarily about any one of those things.

…readers often end up cherry-picking verses and passages to prove whatever they happen to already believe about God.

The Bible is first a story—the grandest love story that was ever told. Adam and Eve fell, and since then, humanity has been at “enmity” with God (Romans 8:7) and God, the jilted lover, is doing everything in His power to win us back. As a side note, this is why we are obsessed with love stories: because we are all in one, and when we see it on the screen, it resonates with something deep inside of us.

When we see the Bible as a story, suddenly, it comes alive with a new magnetic pull and becomes less of a source for debate. Verses and passages that were used like weapons suddenly find clearer meaning and new beauty when seen in their proper context.

At Light Bearers, we’re obsessed with teaching people to see the Bible as a story, which is why we named the curriculum for ARISE, our three-month discipleship program, The Story.

One of the ways we love to teach the story is through our weekend programs, called ARISE Intensives. During an ARISE Intensive, we give people a crash course in The Story. In around 20 hours of teaching, attendees get a laser-focused view of the Bible as a narrative.

This past October 1-3, we held our sixth ever ARISE Intensive. We’ve seen over and over how a sprint through the story of Scripture can give people critical paradigm shifts and inspire them with new passion to share the gospel, and this intensive in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was no exception!

One-hundred and forty attendees from 21 different states and one Canadian province gathered together at the idyllic Howe Farms to dig into Scripture. From Friday evening to Sunday evening, Ty and David taught essential truths in the context of God in His love coming to rescue humanity.

Every story has a beginning and we discovered that the beginning of The Story is a triune God of love, eternally coexisting. We found the setting of this story is a good and perfect world, where God creates humans and gives them a perfect day of rest—the Sabbath. The Story also has conflict and the conflict began when Adam and Eve abused their freedom and chose to believe that the God who made their good world wasn’t actually good. We studied how God can be all-powerful and loving when the world is full of evil and suffering.

Every story has a hero, too, and this one’s name is Jesus. We covered His plan to save humanity in the covenant, who He is as the Messiah, and so much more. We concluded with our role in the story: to tell it to others. Ty broke down spiritual disciplines a storyteller can live by and David finished us out with practical examples of how to connect with others and share the story with them.

…the conflict began when Adam and Eve abused their freedom…

Our friend, Markis Zarate, a worship leader from Florida, punctuated the teaching sessions throughout the weekend by leading us in beautiful moments of praise and worship. Group activities, discussions, and a Q & A made the teachings even more impactful.

We are so grateful to say the Holy Spirit moved on minds and hearts:

I always thought I understood God’s love for us…man was I wrong; ARISE opened my eyes. Before, I saw the Bible as the old and the new, God on one side and Jesus on the other. Now I can see that they are in the entire Bible, from beginning to end, a story. –Marisa M.

The ARISE Intensive helped me see that all of our doctrines are out-growings of God’s character of love. –Anonymous

I have a lot of friends in various circles with ranging backgrounds and religious beliefs, and now I know that I can spread the gospel story in some way to all of them. – Daisy G.

The weekend ignited a new passion to let everyone know of God’s love and true character and let the truth of who He is draw them to Him. ARISE provided simple yet powerful ways to share these truths and the narrative. –Mimi R.

The year is wrapping up and we are so thankful as we look back on what God has done. We also look forward to hosting more ARISE Intensives in 2022. We are living in a world that is used to Scripture being weaponized, but we believe that, together, we can and need to tell the world a different story.

If you’ve been inspired by Light Bearers’ discipleship program, ARISE, and you want to help tell the story to others, consider partnering with us by donating. We thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Anneliese Wahlman
Creative Writer at Light Bearers

Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.