Spirituality and Prayer
When Donald Trump Washed My Feet
By David Evans
Most of the other classic scenes in the Bible share the same problem of over-familiarity. We've seen them too many times for them to affect us as powerfully as they should. For example: David and Goliath; Jesus walking on the water; the raising of Lazarus from the dead. After reading these stories a few hundred times, they all start to seem like old stuff.
What can we do?
I believe that, in order to reconnect ourselves with the true power of these stories, we need to "de-familiarize" the Bible. We need to restore its newness. There are several strategies we can use to help us achieve this.
One strategy is to substitute different or unlikely people in the biblical story situations. Maybe it's you or me getting our feet washed. And instead of Jesus doing the foot washing, suppose it's someone totally unlikely, like Donald Trump. Suddenly the scene becomes really shocking, and we get a sense of just what a preposterous role reversal is involved. (It's not that Donald Trump is really that important, but he certainly thinks he is, and it's his gigantic ego that gives this made-up scene its sense of radical contrast.)
Another strategy to de-familiarize the Bible is to read it in another language, ideally one that you don't have great fluency in. (In fact, the less fluent you are, the better) That way, the laborious process of translating can be helpful in slowing you down, and you will arrive at the stories through alternative neural pathways. It can make a big difference, and can help you see those old stories through new eyes.
Sometimes, instead of a foreign language, it can be helpful to view a familiar Bible passage through the lens of a different culture, or a non-traditional context. I once saw a wonderful picture book, which recounted the entire 23rd psalm against a gritty, inner-city, urban backdrop. The effect was dramatic, and made those overly familiar words seem newly minted.
One of my own favorite strategies for taking a fresh look at Bible stories is through humor. This comes very naturally to me personally, because I spent many years as a comedy writer. (I wrote for "The Monkees" TV show, among other things.) I believe humor can be very valuable in helping make the Bible fresh and surprising for us again.
With this in mind I got involved in a fun personal project several years ago, when I wrote some cartoons about the Bible. The point of the cartoons was to nudge us and remind us that most of the characters in the Bible were regular people, just like us (especially the disciples!). For example, in one cartoon, several scruffy-looking disciples are sitting around the table eating a meal. One of the disciples is grumbling, "Some miracle! It's been two weeks since the Feeding of the Five Thousand, and we're still eating leftovers!"
Or another cartoon shows The Virgin Mary in her middle years. She is complaining to a friend. She says, "My boy Jesus has plenty of time to heal lepers, walk on the water, and raise the dead. But do you think he has time to write his mother?"
So humor can be very helpful in jostling our thinking about the Bible and its characters. I believe humor is one of Gods great gifts to us, which can greatly bless our life of faith.
Yet another strategy for de-familiarizing the Bible is prayer! We can pray that God will speak to us powerfully through his word and make it new again for us. This is a great kind of prayer, because we are praying for something we already know God wants for us! We know that is a prayer will be answered.
So, does it seem as though that you've heard those old familiar stories in the Bible too many times for them to stay fresh and new? There is hope! Try these different strategies. They can help de-familiarize the Bible, so that you can re-experience just how amazing and powerful the Bible really is. It is possible for any of us to escape from the deadly box of over-familiarity. I believe that is one of the important goals of Christian Spirituality.
and A Deeper Understanding of Life
Power of Prayer: Why Jesus Didn't Pray Like You or I
How Does Prayer Work?
©David Evans 2008. David Evans is a Christian Coach, helping Christians find breakthroughs of the Spirit and a deeper life of faith. He also helps Christians laugh and Think Outside the Box. Find out more. http://www.DavidEvansCommunications.com
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