I’ve pretty much been an actor my whole life.
It started with my breakout role as a sheep at the age of 2 in my preschool Christmas pageant. I went up on stage, looked out at the assembly, burst into tears, and ran back to my mommy in the audience.
Things have improved since then.
I spent my childhood doing school plays, church skits, and annual community summer theater. In high school, I added in directing. In college, I joined Transformed! Eastern’s traveling drama ministry – as both an actor and director. I learned to be a chameleon. Anytime, anywhere, I would and could be anybody you wanted. I even eventually developed the ability to cry real tears on cue – something that still earns me admiration when I go play LARP (Live-Action Role Play) games with my friends. It has always been a joy to me – and often, a deep challenge. To become someone else, to step into their shoes, put on their life and manner of speech, to look out their eyes at their problems and triumphs and failures – being an actor can be very cathartic. You can feel the emotions, exude that energy into your performance, and then with the removal of your costume, lay it aside and go about your daily life. It was easy. All I had to do was to be someone else. And, not liking myself very much for much of my life, it was a great place to hide.
When I made the move into the pulpit and into teaching, that all changed. Instead of portraying someone fictional that I could remove myself from after the performance, suddenly I was ME. Myself. Representing truth, as near as I could understand it. Not just any truth – God’s Truth. The stakes suddenly became much higher, and I found myself nervous in a way I hadn’t been before. I was accountable for not just the skill of a performance, but for the content and meaning of it. I was given a treasure, and as I’d look out on each audience or congregation, I was VERY aware of what a broken, clay vessel I really am.
But in those times, I held on to the theme verse from Transformed. Our focus was always on Romans 12:1-2.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If we live by the world, we are not being truly transformed. But, admittedly, if we live by the world, we will often find the acceptance we crave – the applause for our performance of being someone other than our true selves. Briefly. It’s freeing, sometimes liberating – for a moment. But it never, ever lasts. Because if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, the “us” that the world applauds is not the “us” that Jesus would applaud. In fact, if we follow Jesus, allowing ourselves to shun the patterns of this world and follow Christ’s path of transformation and renewal, we will very rarely, if ever, get a standing ovation. We might be rejected. Scorned. Ridiculed.
We will also be on the path of life. We will also be acting out the true nature of who God has made us each to be. We will be walking the welcoming path of our Savior, which, while not easy, is an easy burden. And while we will still be bearing a load, it will be light. There may be tears… but they will be real – as real as Christ’s when he wept over Jerusalem before his crucifixion. And we will continually be renewed, as long as we continually seek transformation in Jesus.
Don’t play at life. Be transformed fully by the good news of the gospel in every way – inside and outside, in our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths – our emotions, our selves, our intellect, and our actions. So that when someday the curtain falls, we can bow before our Lord and Savior, and worship him fully as our true selves, in spirit and in truth.
May God bless you today and always,