Several days ago, LL posted “Blog Me a Story,” in which she talked about the power of storytelling in communicating messages. The ensuing discussion brought up the power of stories in Jesus’ teaching. And as a writer and reader, I am always up for a good story. In fact, I find myself drawn to people who tell their own personal stories in compelling ways.

Over the past few weeks, however, I have realized anew that the power of story telling is not always a force for good in my life. The stories I hear on the news, read in books, or watch on the big screen can sometimes present a view of reality that may cause me to be fearful, can distract me from higher priorities, or can even make sin look inviting.

Over the past month, I found myself in an unexpected situation that seemed more like a Hollywood movie starring Drew Barrymore than a page out of my own life story. And somewhere along the way, I realized that I myself had begun responding more like a movie character than a person who is being conformed to God’s image.

As the situation escalated, I found myself with a big choice to make. Continuing with the Hollywood script, I would have followed my heart and thrown caution to the wind. So what if it was the wrong thing to do? At least I would have had a few moments of true happiness.

But as it were, another story became more compelling. The amazing story of Jesus–his life, his death, his sacrifice, his resurrection–sometimes does lead me through dramatic plot twists and romantic interludes. But it’s never intended to produce fear, distraction or sin in my life. The story of Jesus always leads me toward greater faith, a renew mind, and the righteousness of Christ. Even when the choices are hard and painful.

I consider myself a pretty mature person, able to participate in discussions of current events and to find the redeeming qualities in art, movies and novels written by people from all perspectives without having to capitulate or agree with the other person. But I have been reminded anew that the ideas I come into contact with, especially those presented as stories, have an overwhelming power to change how I think and how I live. Passively reading or watching or listening is not only foolish, it can be dangerous.

How do you interact with the stories you encounter? How do you use them for good in your life? How do you avoid being negatively influenced by stories that contradict what God has presented as good and true in His story?

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”