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In Different Shoes

February 13, 2017 | Posted by Billy Brath

I used to be a Character Performer at Walt Disney World. (Google it without kids around!) That job had me in many different pairs of oversized shoes as I entertained the crowds. Each costume came with different actions, attitudes, and looks. I had to think about how a silly man-dog would run around or a hyper tiger would approach a family. I admit it was a fun time in my life.

That experience, compounded with years on other stages, has me thinking about the actions and attitudes of the people we read about in scripture. What was it actually like in their shoes? How does their story change the way I live and lead?

It’s easy to read an account of Moses, Jesus, or Peter and not spend time thinking about the emotions and actions of the people involved. If you’re like me, because of old Bible movies, we hear proper English accents with emotional inflections on par with the Queen of England reading the newspaper. So first, try to break out of the standard Bible reading by reading out loud with some inflection.

A few weeks ago I was guest preaching at a sister congregation here in Central Florida on Acts 10. I presented the message in first person, as the centurion Cornelius. He (I) recounted his encounter with the angel and Peter. It forced me to think how this Roman officer would tell the story of his conversion and how his emotions would flow. When I see him in heaven I can fact check, but it sent me on an emotional roller coaster. Cornelius went from being an outsider, an unclean foreigner who desired to be chosen, to one of God’s Baptized beloved children. There is a solid chance that if I could trace the witness chain up my Christian family tree it would lead to the day Cornelius was baptized.

Second suggestion, read scripture in first person – either as the writer or fall into the shoes of one of the folks in the recounting. You may discover that you fit into the story perfectly.

When I got into my car after worship that day I wondered what Cornelius did from that day onward. How did he share the Gospel? How did he share his story? That’s when I was brought back to my Disney days. I spent a lot of time sorting out how to be old cartoon characters living in the world today. What if I spent time sorting out how to be Cornelius today, that is, being someone born again into God’s Kingdom and excited to share the Gospel?

As it turns out, you and I are exactly that – the present day witnesses of the amazing work of Jesus Christ. So finally, when you read a chapter of scripture like Acts 10, see yourself as the continuation of the story. Place yourself in the shoes of Cornelius, Peter, Paul, Mary, or Mark and live out the continual sending call of Christ. Be His witnesses to the ends of the earth!

Billy Brath
Billy works with churches, organizations, and leaders to develop and produce creative ministries that work to effectively reach the culture today. Formerly a dancer/performer, with an undergrad in secular Religious Studies, and experience in digital arts & design, he is currently campus pastor at the University of Central Florida & works through his company RevCreative.