In “Summarize”, we learned how to create summaries which are basically crude, zoomed-out maps of the larger story. In Step Four, “Make-Believe”, we are going to engage our imaginations to fill that map with granular details. The goal of “Make-Believe” is two-fold:
- To help you identify and pay attention to the details in the passage you have been reading.
- To engage your mind and your imagination when reading The Bible. (This can be really helpful especially when leading your family or small group.)
Silly as it may sound, when reading The Bible, it is important that you make-believe and pretend by using your imagination. By using your imagination when reading The Bible, you are obeying God’s Commandment to love Him with all your mind. However, if you do not pretend in this holy way, your knowledge of Christ will be limited and, as Peter implies in 2 Peter 1:3, you will be spiritually crippled and unable to glorify Him with all He Has Given you. And besides, when you read The Bible, you will inevitably imagine something. Why not use your imagination to glorify The Storyteller and honor The Story instead of dreaming about the basketball game?
But before you go off imagining or acting, you first have to identify the characters in the passage you are reading. For the sake of practice, turn to Matthew 7:24-29 and read it at least once. Write a summary of what you’ve read per our instructions in the previous step. Now, look through Matthew 7:24-29 and make a list of the people, places, things or ideas present within the passage. Your list may look something like this:
People: Jesus, the one who hears and obeys, the wise man, the foolish man, the one who hears and disobeys, the people in the crowd, the scribesPlaces: the house on the rock, the house on sand, the mountain where Christ spoke to the people.Things: the words of God, the house, the rock, the rain, the floods, the winds, the sand, the astonishment of the people, the authority of ChristIdeas: hearing, doing, building, the inevitability of tribulation and storms, the relationship between the foundation and the house, withstanding the storm vs the great fall, authority
Have the fireworks began yet? Have you begun to see things in the passage that you didn’t notice before? I pray this is so.
Let us continue to make-believe by using our imagination to enter the passage. Choose one character from the list of people, places, things and ideas you just made made. You can decide to be the wise man or a scribe or even the flood. Now that you’ve chosen your character, set the scene. In your mind’s eye, try to see the crowd, the motes of dust in the mountain air or the mist of the rain. Engage your ears to hear the crackling lightning of the coming storm, or the whispers of awe among the people. Use your heart to feel the awe and wonder of His Word. Engage your hands to feel the hardness of the rock, the grittiness of the sand and the ache in your arms as you build your house.
With the scene now clear in your mind, you have to get into character. This is best done by asking questions to help fully engage your mind and heart. For example, let’s say you chose to be a scribe. Ask yourself questions like these:
- Are you happy, sad, envious or convicted when you watch Jesus Christ teaching the people?
- Are you still angry because He Pointed out your sin in Matthew 6?
- Do you feel diminished because you are hearing the people compare you to Jesus?
Or let’s say you’re pretending to be a rock. Ask yourself these questions:
- How does it feel to be a rock? Are you soft like mud, hard like granite or do you crumble like sandstone?
- What makes you different from sand?
- Rocks are a combination of different elements. Since you are the rock upon which a wise man builds his house, what are you made of?
- How does it feel when the wise man builds his house upon you?
- As a rock, how does it feel when the storms hit you?
With a clear scene and a clear character, you are finally ready. If you’re reading The Bible by yourself, you will have to imagine yourself as this character. If you’re in your family or church group, each one of you will act out their character!! As we said earlier, the goal of this imagining and acting is to get into the passage. Just remember to honor The Storyteller and His Story in your imaginations. Ignore any thought or action that is not supported by God Almighty in His Holy Word.
We have given instruction about many things but there are really only two things you need for effective make-believe as you read The Bible:
- Make a list of the people, places, things and ideas in the passage that you read.
- Pretend to be someone or something on the list you just made.
Feel free to practice with Matthew 7:24-29, The Book of Proverbs or any of The Parables of Jesus Christ. As you do this, you will discover many valuable insights. But most of all, God’s Word will become your world.