'If you don't fully commit you will make a fool of yourself'. This was the second power phrase I heard on my first day of acting. The first, 'Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.’
Given this context of acting, the second power phrase is a pretty wise statement when you think about it. I mean, when you really think about it, if you don't fully commit to doing something you can never really do it properly and can therefore certainly never do it truthfully.
Art half done is never convincing. So, committing to really doing something and half-heartedly pretending to do something is the difference between high school drama and, well, Meryl Streep. Commitment is the key ingredient that separates the weeds from the wheat.
In essence, therefore, an actor's job is to commit fully to being truthful under imaginary circumstances. If they don't, not only their scene is at stake but also the entire story. If the actor isn't acting truthfully and really living under imaginary circumstances, they are merely acting the fool who is wandering around in a make believe wonderland. There is simply no in between.
The story is robbed of its power. The characters are robbed of the opportunity to ever live. The audience is robbed of the opportunity to believe. If this were the case, the script would be better off as a novel. The stakes are high in this medium of story telling. It's life or death for the characters, for the story, and for the belief of the audience.
However, at the end of the day, these are merely the stakes for the imaginary world of the actor and the made up story of a writer. How much higher are the stakes in real life and the task we really have as followers of Christ?
Don't be lukewarm
In the book of Revelation the stakes are too high to ignore.
Revelation chapter 3, verses 14–22 says, 'To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth’.
OK, so we have all heard the well-worn phrase 'Don't be lukewarm'. But when you really see what is going on here it is more like a punch in the face than a reading of a now well-known phrase.
Laodicea was located in the Lycus River Valley, it was a banking centre for its region and incredibly wealthy. Laodicea was so wealthy it could refuse disaster relief support from Rome after an earthquake struck them in A.D. 60! However, despite all of its wealth, this city had one serious lack—a natural supply of water. This was a huge discomfort and was certainly not something the surrounding cities of Colossae and Hierapolis had to experience.
OK, I will spare the suspense—the Laodicean's didn't dehydrate! To solve this problem water was piped from Hierapolis. This was a great idea! The problem was Hierapolis was a source of hot water and therefore by the time its water had been transported to Laodicea it had become lukewarm.
Now, lukewarm water isn't very useful because it is the perfect temperature for the breeding of bacteria and is therefore not suitable for drinking or cleansing purposes, nor is it hot enough for cooking or bathing. This water therefore demanded heating or cooling before further use, otherwise it was ineffective.
The essential message of this text is therefore much more than a wishy-washy image. It is rather a harsh and confronting word to a church blessed to be amongst a culture abundant with resource and wealth, but ineffective and lacking the essential properties of what the church was intended for. The church in Laodicea was immensely blessed with resources and they had so much opportunity to have a positive impact in a powerful city, but they needed to hear the harsh words—'Don't be ineffective!’
Don't act the fool
The same essential message carries true for Christians today. In a world of possessions, wealth, power and multitudes of distractions—'Don't be ineffective!’ I can't help but now think through the lens of an actor with my mind immediately deviating to the second power phrase: 'If you don't fully commit you will make a fool of yourself'.
The actor is essentially ineffective if they do not fully commit, so is the Church. As Christians we are called to be effective for Christ, making our short scene on earth count for the cause of love. We are called to commit and either be hot or cold, not lukewarm, non-committal and ineffective.
The stakes are high. The mission is in the Word. The cause of Christ is at stake. The question is the same as the actor—will you fully commit? It's your choice. Just don't act the fool.
'If you do not plan to live the Christian life totally committed to knowing your God and to walking in obedience to Him, then don't begin, for this is what Christianity is all about. It is a change of citizenship, a change of governments, a change of allegiance. If you have no intention of letting Christ rule your life, then forget Christianity; it is not for you'
- Kay Arthur
'To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us'.
- Tim Keller
Charlotte (Charley) Cox (nee Goiris) works in youth ministry and is studying a Bachelor of Theology at a bible college in Melbourne. Charley enjoys writing children's stories, playing guitar and dreaming the impossible.
Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html