I love storytelling. As humans, we love stories because we see ourselves in them, and they inspire us by making our lives feel bigger and a part of something greater. This is why storytelling is so powerful and why it’s been a major communication tool for thousands of years. The methods have evolved, but the fundamental action and pattern of telling a story has not.
There is one basic pattern of storytelling that most, if not all, storylines follow. It’s called “The Hero’s Journey.” This pattern starts with a single hero, who lives in his own known universe, but is called on a great adventure in an unknown territory. As the hero’s journey begins, he meets a supernatural aid, helper or mentor. From there he faces challenges, temptations,meets his enemies and his allies. At the arc of the story, the hero faces death and rebirth. From there he is transformed, must undergo atonement, and then ultimately he returns home. Doesn’t this sound like a story you and I are familiar with? It is the same pattern that the Gospel follows.
Let’s take the movie Star Wars as an example to highlight this pattern. If you’ve never seen Star Wars, you can still read through this pattern and get a great understanding of the plot and how it relates to us as Christians.
Luke is in his known world when he lives on a moisture farm on the desert planet Tatooine. Luke’s call to adventure comes when he finds a message stored in R2-D2. Luke meets his aid/mentorwhen he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi who gives Luke his father’s lightsaber and agrees to train him to be a Jedi. He crosses the threshold when he travels with Obi to Alderaan to deliver plans for the Death Star to Princess Leia’s father. He comes face to face with his challenges/temptations/enemies and allies when he meets Hans Solo and Chewbacca and they travel to Alderaan with Obi Wan. He approaches the abyss when the Death Star destroys Alderaan and they invade Death Star to rescue Princess Leia. Here is also where death and rebirth happens, when the group rescues Leia but Darth Vader kills Obi Wan Kenobi in the process. The transformation happens when Luke joins the Rebels and destroys the Death Star. He approaches atonement when he refuses Hans Solo’s offer to leave, and chooses to overcome the Galactic Empire. He passes the atonement stage when he remembers Obi-Wan’s advice and uses the Force to help him destroy the Death Star. He returns transformed with his reward when he receives the medal and takes his first steps toward becoming a Jedi.
Let’s see ourselves in this story, not as intergalactic jedi masters but as followers of Christ. Just like the hero in the story is called out of his or her known universe, we too are called to adventure, into the unknown where growth and transformation happen. Along the way we receive supernatural aid, help and mentorship through the Holy Spirit to face challenges and temptations. We then face our own ordeals, undergo supernatural death and resurrection when we choose to die to our old-self and be reborn into new identities in Christ where we then walk the path of transformation back home.
It’s easy to see ourselves in any story when we realize that all storytelling follows the pattern that God himself outlined. The next time you’re at the movie theater or at home watching a movie about a triumphant hero - picture yourself there instead and ask yourself where you are on “The Hero’s Journey.” You are the movie star.
Written By Mithun Abraham,
Edited by Kamber White.