Is my imagination irreverent when I am reading the Bible?

(Jessica Coaker) #1

Mark 2 talks about the paralyzed man being lowered down through the roof to Jesus. I’ve heard this story my whole life. The emphasis has always been on the healing and Jesus proclaiming the mans sins were forgiven. That’s probably how it should be. Except… I am me and today, this is where my mind went.

For some reason today as I read it, I am completely fascinated by the fact that these four men dug a HOLE in someone’s roof and there is no one upset about that.What! This image is so strange and funny to me! The house is so full that these four men cannot get through the door.

Can you imagine the conversation among them?
Who is the one prompting them to find another way? The man who was paralyzed? Or the men who carried him?
Was it a conversation with desperation or some level of sarcasm?
The movie in my mind looks like this: “We can’t get it in! What do you want us to do? Dig a hole in the roof?” The five men look at each other. Then the next scene is them hoisting this man on the mat up into the air and him telling them to be careful. Then maybe he’s giving them directions and they are getting frustrated.
The scene below is Jesus speaking when all of the sudden little bits of dust start falling on his head. Everyone looks up in time for the roof to spill in a bit and all of the people get dusty.

I could seriously go on and on with the different ways this plays out in my head and the questions that are left open. Did they just happen to have tools to dig? How thick is that roof? Did Jesus get dust on his head as they cut the hole? Nobody noticed the hole being created and ran up there to stop them? What did the owner of the home do? Did he run after the man who was healed, “ Hey! Come fix my roof?”

I suppose I should be focusing on the healing and the religious leaders who are beginning to distrust Jesus and accuse him of blasphemy. And I am! But does anyone else get caught up in the lack of details and does your imagination take over like mine? Is it irreverent that my mind does this? Or does God enjoy my mind movies as I take in His word.
I have often thought about writing these small details that seem so funny or trivial to me. I would not want to be disrespectful. Is there a place for that type of creativity and humor? Are there lessons to be learned in the missing details?

(SeanO) #2

@Jessica_Coaker No, I do not believe our imagination is irreverent. In fact, I believe God gave us our imagination as a gift if we use it in a manner that is holy - set apart to honor Christ. Some people even practice a form of prayer that involves the imagination and it is common for sermons to involve imaginative illustrations of stories like the on you shared - of the man being lowered through th roof. Christ sanctify your mind and grant you wisdom in understanding the role of imagination in Bible study and prayer :slight_smile:

Eventually, when our imaginations are trained by the Bible and Christian tradition, we begin to perceive with our senses what we know to be true by faith. In this way, a biblical imagination can ultimately alter our experience. To offer only one example of this, the early American theologian Jonathan Edwards believed God had built into nature clues about the deep themes of Scripture, including salvation, sanctification, the futility of the law, and the beauty of grace. He saw in the butterfly an image of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. He saw in the spider’s web an illustration of the craftiness and stealth of Satan. He saw in the sunrise the eclipse of the law of works by the more perfect law of grace. His uniquely Christian imagination helped him to see beyond the material world to the significance that lay beneath and behind it.

In short, our problem is not an overactive imagination. The real threat is a lack of imagination, or an imagination stunted or misshaped by our experience. Through Scripture and the creative work of fellow pilgrims we can develop a hearty imagination that will help us believe and embody the gospel of Christ in our day.

Lewis argued at one point that, while reason is the
natural organ of truth, “imagination is the organ of
meaning.” In other words, we do not really grasp the
meaning of any word or concept until we have a clear
image that we can connect with it. You can find a more
detailed argument of this contention in Selected Literary
Essays (see “Blusphels and Flalanferes”). The practical
effect of this belief in Lewis’ writing was that even in
the midst of an apologetic argument, he provided just
the right picture, image or metaphor to help the reader
grasp the meaning of the argument

Imagination played a key role in Lewis’ conversion.
Through the reading of George MacDonald’s Christian fantasy, Phantastes, Lewis reported that a new
quality, “a bright shadow,” leapt off the page. Later he
described the new quality as “holiness,” recalling this
time as a baptism of his own imagination. Although
Lewis still needed to confront certain rational objections
to the Christian faith—and to finally submit his will to
what he had discovered—his “baptism of the imagination” was the starting point in his journey to faith. In a similar fashion, Lewis’ own fiction has resulted in the
same imaginative renewal for many people.

(Keldon Scott (Kel)) #3

Very imaginative @Jessica_Coaker. I smiled reading your post and actually had the movie reel you enabled in my mind. The thrill of imagination. I agree w @SeanO. It is a gift! Not irreverent at all. Lots of anecdotes biblically and otherwise leave us wanting. Thinking about such things is fun. Thanks for the diversion this morning. :slight_smile:

(Sieglinde) #4

I like @Keldon_Scott smiled while reading it and agree with @SeanO it’s a gift. Not disrespectful at all to me :slightly_smiling_face: “ little bits of dust falling on Jesus’s head” :grinning: You just made a short film in my mind. Thanks for sharing :heart:

(chris john) #5

The small details make the story come alive and its fun, keep doing it! I have also wondered about no one noticing all this happening until he is actually right in front of Jesus.

(Brian Fritz) #6

I saw that movie trailer too! That was a faithful and weird set of friends who were more than fanatics. If someone could do a Montey Python cinematic treatment style of the miracles, it would be deemed heretical, funny and true.

(Wynn Hardy) #7

@jessica_Coaker you really are creative, and before i finished reading your very illustrative question, I had already thought to myself that this girl needs to write for a living. You have a way with words, are fluent in language and communication, and have a very active imagination. I loved your post!
I remember the parables that Jesus used…and found them very illustrative also. I know they have one meaning for believers, and another for non believers, but word pictures are a great way to communicate to us who are not as Imaginatively blessed as you. I believe even Christ used his imagination in his parables. And he was definitely not irreverent.
You Go Sister!!!

(Jessica Coaker) #8

Thank you so much Wendy. I do feel a calling to write. The Lord gives me poetry and my imagination runs often into stories and ideas. Being a mom to 3, I find I’m not having the time to focus on what I would want to in this arena.
I have begun a project. I am asking parents of kids with medical issues and special needs questions about their journey and I turn their answers into poems or creative writing. I want to create a book about that journey and give them a voice. If it works out, I would love to help parents pay off medical bills somehow or give them a break of some type. We have walked that (only a little) and are still digging out.

I am not working, and so we are one income for now. I have been in and out of doctors apts with my son and my own mom. I’m in the caretaker role at the moment and so working isn’t really an option. I had to leave real estate because the schedule wasn’t working.

The Lord laid this on my heart a LONG time ago. I tried to give my songs and poems to a few pastors and other musicians for help and guidence, but nothing came of it. Everyone is really busy. I’ve just been waiting to see where God takes it.
I don’t know anyone who can help me with this really. And we really have negative money to put into it. Our lives have been a series of unfortunate events over the last few years. But we have roof over our heads and we are safe. I am grateful to God for that.
Thank you for your kind words.

(Jessica Coaker) #9

Yes, I worry it would be seen as just that. Although I would try my best to be respectful and skilled in how I walked through it.

1 Like
(Wynn Hardy) #10

I hear you. Life can get busy and unpredictable. Just remember that David waited 30 years to be anointed king. That, after being anointed by Samuel and given the promise. God always answers prayer, its just not in our time perhaps. Keep writing and dreaming about what you want to do. It is a good and Godly plan.