I was reading one review after another in order to pick an audio book for my vacation, when I noticed something mystifying. After reading several very positive reviews, I would always come across others that made the same book sound like the worst thing that had ever been written. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here’s an example of the reviews I found on the same book:
"Wow! I could't stop reading … 5 stars for sure!"
"Amazing writing. I highly recommend to anyone who loves suspense and mystery."
"The story is fresh, suspenseful, interesting, and very realistic."
"I was disappointed when I got to the end, I wanted the story to go on. To me, that is the true test of a good story."
"Excellent! The best book of the year by far!"
"This book was a spellbinder from the minute the first musical cord was heard. A delicious thriller ...."
"The best mystery book I have read!"
And then there were others who offered a very different take:
"I had to read the entire thing twice, the plot was so thick, so filled with seemingly unrelated things."
"So many bad things happen in this book ... pointlessly."
"It's so bad that it becomes almost comical ... "
"You'll need a scorecard to keep track of the story lines in this book."
"So boring it’s painful. Do't waste your time!"
"I think the author wrote this book as a form of self-therapy to help him deal with his issues, rather than as entertainment for us."
Same story, two very different responses. I could't believe these two groups of people had read the same book. This wasn’t unique to this one title. I found similar disagreement on every book on the best seller list! To whom was I to listen?
Why does the same piece of literature illicit such varied responses? The same question could be asked of the best selling book of all time, the Bible. It’s a book that sets forth what is arguably the greatest story ever told.
It tells the compelling story of how the worst thing that has ever happened, the brutal crucifixion of God’s only Son, was turned it into best thing that has ever happened, the resurrection of God’s Son for the redemption of mankind. It’s the story of supreme love, of ultimate courage and of universal hope. It’s a story with the power to bring eternal life to every hearer who will but receive it.
But the greatest story ever told is panned by countless critics the world over--not because the story line isn’t interesting or compelling enough, but because it’s not the story they want to hear. Same story, two very different responses.
"He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:11-12).