Who has the better story?
Pi, in the film, The Story of Pi, asked this simple question to people willing to investigate the various stories about the existence of God and His relationship with us. None can be proven beyond any doubt, because that is the nature of faith, but the question that determines our destiny is the question of the film: "Who has the best story?" Although reviews are mixed about this visually stunning film, I believe the entire film is centered around this one simple yet profound question.
Pi is an Indian boy stranded in a life boat on the ocean for many months with a ferocious Bengal tiger. His whole family and many animals from their zoo in India were drowned when their ship sank, except for a zebra, a baboon, a hyena, and a Bengal Tiger, who all find themselves sharing a life boat. After months at sea, the survivors, an emaciated Pi and Tiger, are beached on the Mexican shore. The Tiger staggers into the trees, without even so much as an endearing look back at Pi. The boy's days at sea were filled with taming, feeding, and collecting water for them both. Pi's heart grieves when this wild animal does not share his affection. A life lesson.
Pi is rescued and hospitalized. There, two men question Pi as to why the ship went down and how he survived. Pi tells the true story but the men find it preposterous and ask him to create a more believable story, which he does. The second story is more reasonable, one their superiors will buy, but it does not ring true, nor is it true. The real story is outlandish, mysterious, and full of wonder, but it is the better story.
The film asks, "Which story of God is the better story?" This question both haunts and inspires me. In my opinion, the answer is the story of the Trinitarian God of the Bible and His plan to redeem creation. This story is so powerful that opposed people can't bear to hear it. The atheist's war on Christmas is a prime example. Why does the atheist rant and cower at the mention of the story of God who came to earth in the form of a tiny babe and grew up to become the most influential Person who ever lived? To the atheist I say, "If this story is offensive to you, simply ignore it."
As a Christian, I am forced to ignore multiple assaults on my faith every day, language that blasphemes the name of the Lord I love, entertainment media that ridicules my values, scholars who spew hate in their classrooms if a student dares admit their love for Christ. For the privilege of telling the better story, I endure this assault without complaining. Atheist, do the same.
Muslims in many countries today will cut off your head or stone you if you tell the story of the Trinitarian God who loved His creation enough to sacrifice Himself for them. Christians there meet in the shadows, whisper the story, and risk their lives to share what this story means to them. But which story results in better outcomes for its followers?
I admit that of some of my Christian brothers and sisters have distorted the story through the ages. Many have not lived it well. Many have not loved as our Lord commanded. When asked, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment," Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." No human can live out this love perfectly, evidence that Someone must help us, evidence for the better story. I admit that I too have not lived out this love as I want to.
Why is the message so dangerous that censorship and death squads try to keep it from spreading? Its power alone suggests that it deserves a hearing. It is the better story. And those who freely and honestly investigate this story find that it rings true, despite its mysteriousness and outlandish wonder. I have believed this story for almost forty years and the God of this story has transformed my life. Give everyone freedom to investigate the stories and let everyone choose for themselves.