I have always been interested in the arts, especially theatre and film. I even had the opportunity to study acting in New York City with some great teachers who worked in the business. With that background, I have always been fascinated how concepts that you learn in an acting class translate to life, specifically as a follower of Christ.
For instance, when working on a scene an important thing to remember is that you must keep your attention on the other person; you must be really listening to them. If you are focusing on yourself, how you look and sound, then you will not be present in the scene and you won’t be truthfully responding to them. This is a big difference between an experienced actor and a novice. Many times the beginning actor is merely waiting for the opportunity to say his lines, instead of actually listening to what the other person is saying. This results in stale, lifeless line readings. As an audience member, I go to the theatre to see life unfold before my eyes, not to watch actors who have simply memorized words in a script.
In the same way, life itself becomes stale and meaningless when our desire is to make it all about ourselves, to put all of our attention on “self”. We often believe the idea that if we focus on bettering our self, on finding our own personal happiness, then everything will be great. The problem is that this type of personal fulfillment is not lasting. The thing that once brought us so much joy and happiness becomes dull and common and we soon lose interest in it. So we have to leave that behind and find a new thing that will give us that buzz and rush once again. For example, we are in love with idea of “falling in love”. We become infatuated with someone and chase after them. However, according to recent statistics, 40%-50% of married couples end up divorced. Why is this? Didn’t they “fall in love”? The problem is that most marriages begin with the idea that it is all about personal fulfillment. The moment one person does not feel they are getting from the relationship what they used to get, they move on to another one. It’s not the person that we cared about; it was that feeling of something new and exciting. With this in mind, we can see why 30%-60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity at some point in their marriage. (Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 193-221) The all-important “I” must be fulfilled and we see to it that it is, even if it comes to cheating on a spouse, running away from problems, or turning to drugs and alcohol.
However, when we read God’s Word we see that, as people who have been made in the image of God, we are not created for ourselves but for God. We are made to focus on God, worship God, and to reflect His goodness. The writers of the Westminster Catechism had it right when they wrote that “they chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” When we come into a relationship with God through Christ we start to see life as it really is. We see that all of those things we once used to bring fulfillment never actually satisfied. It is only in God that we find fulfillment that lasts. In God, we find joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8) because we recognize that we deserve nothing from God and yet, by His grace, have received everything. Every good gift is from God (James 1:17). In response all of our focus and attention should be moved from “self” to Him who actually deserves it. When we put our attention on God, on what has been accomplished for us by Christ upon the cross, and what the Bible teaches us, we will find that everything else will fall into place. Then we can sing that words of the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” with full hearts knowing that God is all that we need and He is our primary focus.
Next time you are watching a film or a play see if you can tell if the actors are really listening to each other or if they are waiting for their turn to speak. Acting that is vibrant is acting that is not about the actor but that is about the journey the characters are going through. A life that is meaningful and vibrant is a life that is not focused upon “self” but that is focused upon God.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” -Lemmel 1922
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ