Many people believe that, of every single story ever told, there are only two types of stories. All the stories we’ve ever heard or known or told, are really just versions of these two types.
In every story, in every plot within a story, in every movie, book, fable, or parable, the same story is being told.
1. A stranger comes to town
2. A hero goes on a journey
All stories represent one of these basic archetypes.
Think of any story you know.
For instance, what type of story is Mary Poppins? We’re introduced to the setting and its characters first. We become somewhat familiar with the Banks family and their kooky staff. And then, Mary appears. She’s come into this world. She’s the stranger come to town.
Now try to think of a story that fits into the second category.
It’s pretty easy right? Star Wars, Swiss Family Robinson, Superman, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and it goes on. There are many besides Mary Poppins that feature the ‘stranger coming to town’ element, but I see tons of examples of the second type in the sci-fi/fantasy/fairy tale genres.
What do story types have to do with Geeks of Christ?
Who would be the most dynamic, world-shatteringly thrilling stranger to come to town?
I mean, flying nannies are cool. Angels or aliens would definitely be cool. But what if the real deal showed up? The one who made all the flying nannies and angels and aliens and all the other strangers who’ve come to towns (towns that He’s also made)?
God would be the ultimate stranger come to town. Imagine how our setting, our home, our town, would react to the presence of this stranger? Reflect on the changes that Mary Poppins made to the Banks’ household, and all she had was magic and a great voice! Think of all the towns that Clint Eastwood rode into and all the justice he brought. If God came to town, don’t you think He’d let us see the magical world just beyond ours, like Mary Poppins did for the kids? Wouldn’t God bring justice like Clint brought justice?
Even if you don’t believe in God, you have to admit that it would be a cool story to see Him come to town. But before He comes to town, we have to make Him fit in, like Mary and Clint always hid who they really were. You didn’t know Mary was magic til she was already living there. And Clint’s magic was so well hidden, many people who watched the movie still won’t admit he had any. (Watch Pale Rider and tell me he’s doesn’t have some kind of magic.)
So dress down God. He’s coming to town dressed normal, like Mary or Clint. He’ll reveal his identity later, but for now He’s just coming to town. He does some cool stuff, challenges some worldviews, changes some minds, helps people with a power that it doesn’t seem like He should have. “Who is this stranger?”
And, like Mary and Clint or any of the other strangers-come-to-town, only those He was close to have an idea of who He really was. Everyone felt the wave of change left by that person. The Banks’ neighbors noticed the attitude shift, the people in town knew that the bad guys were suddenly gone. The world knows that there is a group of maybe 2 billion people waiting for this Stranger to return to town. Everybody sees the change, but not everybody saw the stranger who made the change happen. If our last name isn’t Banks, or if we missed the shoot-out in town, we have to decide what to believe.
Deciding on Mary Poppins
Did Mr Banks turn nice suddenly because he just decided?
“Yeah,” we say, “that makes sense.”
But isn’t it peculiar that he was mean til that flying nanny showed up, and then he seemed to get progressively nicer until he was really nice and then she left?
“Well,” we say, “perhaps she was a good inspiration, but he was wanting to change anyway.”
But she flew, and I heard from three different people that she showed them a magical world, on just the other side of this one.
“What can I say? Banks changed because of Mary Poppins, I guess.”
So, if Jesus is the Stranger, who is the hero going on a journey?
It’s a matter of perspective, isn’t it? I’m sure the people of Metropolis thought of Superman as a stranger coming to town. But because of the way the story is told to us, we know him better than we know the city. So when he arrives, he’s the hero going on the journey. If we know the place better, we see a stranger. If we know the hero better, we see his journey.
Most people see Jesus first as the stranger coming to town.
We know our little planet better than we know the heavens…or Heaven, or wherever He really came from. It’s only after we see the stranger working, like what he’s doing, join in his mission, that we can see the story from his perspective.
Superman’s mission is made clear from the beginning. So we’re seeing the story from his view. Mary Poppins’ mission isn’t as clear, so we see her as a stranger. And we never get to know her well enough to really see her as the hero gone on a journey. “Gone on a journey from where?” We don’t know. Jesus tells us where He’s come from. He invites us to see things from His perspective.
He tells us that things aren’t what they seem. This realm is ruled by a darkness we cannot see until we come into His light. He shows us a little of His light to convince us, to earn our trust, then He pulls us into it and we can see the darkness. We can see the danger that we’re all in. And He gives us a magical sword that never dulls, that doesn’t cut their skin, but cuts their heart. And this magic sword appears as a book, which we use to see the path of our hero and we use to see the darkness of this land is currently under.
The stranger is now our friend, our hero. And this land which we thought we knew, is just a place to journey through.
The stories we tell each other, especially the fantastic ones, reflect this wonderful and true story. All our heroes are on a journey and every place they go sees them as a stranger at first. Sometimes the people believe the hero is really there to help, sometimes they refuse.
With this humble little blog, I want to show that these stories – these stories of Fairy Tales and Star Trek and Doctor Who and Superman are all telling the same story, over and over. And through them, we’ll see the real hero and we’ll know His real journey.