Editor's note:

James Bryan Smith joined Nathan Fos­ter on the Ren­o­varé Pod­cast this past Mon­day to share a lit­tle about his new book The Mag­nif­i­cent Sto­ry: Uncov­er­ing a Gospel of Beau­ty, Good­ness, and Truth.

Today, we are shar­ing an excerpt with you. 

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from The Magnificent Story

I met a man who watch­es The Lord of the Rings movies every night. When he told me this I pushed back, Every night?” He said when he gets off work he goes home, fix­es his din­ner, and turns on the movie and watch­es until he gets sleepy. He stops the movie, and resumes in the same spot the next night. I was stunned by this, but in a way I under­stand. Great sto­ries filled with adven­ture, with an epic bat­tle of good ver­sus evil, where tragedy ends in tri­umph, do some­thing to our soul noth­ing else can.

We are crea­tures with a mys­tery in our heart that is big­ger than our­selves. We may think we can find ulti­mate plea­sure, sat­is­fac­tion, and mean­ing in alco­hol, sex, mon­ey, or pow­er, but in real­i­ty those have nev­er sat­is­fied any­one. They are too small for our mas­sive souls. We were designed to take part in a divine dra­ma, an epic sto­ry. We were made not mere­ly to hear it but to be in it. We are, indeed, sto­ries. But in truth we are not the pro­tag­o­nist of the real sto­ry, the sto­ry we long to take part in. God is the hero of the only sto­ry that will sat­is­fy us.

The the­sis of this book is that there is a mag­nif­i­cent sto­ry, which is the most impor­tant thing hap­pen­ing on this earth. It is our only hope as indi­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties, coun­tries, and a species. But for a vari­ety of rea­sons the gospel mes­sage we often hear, the sto­ry often told, is shrunk­en and dis­tort­ed. This is why we see so many frus­trat­ed, dis­ap­point­ed Chris­tians. It is not that they are bad peo­ple, but they have nev­er heard the mag­nif­i­cent sto­ry in its fullness.

The good news of the gospel is sim­i­lar to cry­ing over the beau­ty of heav­en­ly music. The good news of the gospel is sim­i­lar to feel­ing glad when we see some­one per­form an unex­pect­ed act of kind­ness for a stranger. The great­est news is that this is what God is like.

To dis­cov­er this we need to look at the sto­ry — the gospel — through the lens­es of beau­ty, good­ness, and truth.

My friend Trevor stat­ed it well: In order to see beau­ty, good­ness, and truth, I have to have hum­ble eyes.” Our eyes can be hum­ble only when we get our­selves out of the way and focus on the beau­ty all around us. And we see God best when we learn to see and expe­ri­ence beau­ty, good­ness, and truth. When we see them, we get a glimpse of God. We not only see them, we hear them, we smell them, we touch them, and we taste them. God gave us all of our sens­es — phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al — to feel God’s love.

God sings his love to you in bird­song. God smiles at you in maple trees. God charms you with the col­or green. He gave you eyes to see sun­sets, ears to hear rain­fall, a nose to smell a rose. God’s mas­sive love appears in the small frag­ments. God is lov­ing you in these moments, even if you don’t know it.

We’re glad you’re here!

Help­ing peo­ple like you abide with Jesus is why we post resources like this one. Always ad-free, Ren­o­varé is sup­port­ed by those who know soul-care is vital. Would you join us?

Donate >

Excerpt­ed from Long­ing for a Mag­nif­i­cent Sto­ry,” The Mag­nif­i­cent Sto­ry by James Bryan Smith (Down­ers Grove, IL: Inter­var­si­ty Press, 2017).