For anyone who is curious about how theology and acting go together, this is the post for you! In doing my character study for my next acting role (Virginia Page in IN HIS STEPS: the series) it has struck me once again how similar it can be to learning who we are in Christ.
Coming to understand how the character thinks and how this translates directly to her words and actions echoes the exhortation to "renew our minds" and so know God's "approved and perfect will" for how we should live (Romans 12:1-2). Actions follow thoughts. "For as he thinks within himself, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) If the thoughts are in order, the actions that are "scripted" or "directed" to follow make perfect sense.
Let's take an example.
She hangs up on him. (....)
If the script indicates that my story character is acting out in anger, I must investigate all clues to discover the underlying source of what I am feeling threatened by that would cause me to lash out this way. Anger can encompass a broad range of stimuli, and is often a reaction born of fear. So how do I know what my character is afraid of? There can be multiple factors at work, and this is where context really helps.
Symptomatic emotions might be envy, bitterness, or insecurity. But when you break it down, envy is fear that what someone else has (or has the potential to have) will give them greater satisfaction and happiness than we can ever have without possessing that very thing ourselves. Bitterness is believing that what happened in the past has forever robbed you of a worthwhile future. Insecurity dons many masks: power abuse (desire for control; micro-management), doormat syndrome (desire for acceptance and approval no matter the cost), flamboyant condescension (desire for freedom from perceived constraints and disdain for limits, authority, and tradition). Any of these (which are but a brief sampling of possibilities) may manifest themselves as a simple action or exclamation of anger.
Once the source of emotion is identified, I can then construct the sequence of thoughts that would logically support and lead to this behavior/dialogue for my character in the scene. Of course the hard part, both in acting and in life, is to be aware and discerning of what our mind is dwelling on and accepting for truth, and "take captive" thoughts that do not belong in this new way of thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5). My job is to determine through careful study the thoughts that I, as my character, need to think to have the desired outcome. To do this I run them through my character's belief and personality filter.
It's the same for a Christian; thoughts will come both invited and uninvited into our heads. "But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16) Not all thoughts are welcome to stay anymore. Many must be shown the door as soon as they try to sign in. Always check them against the "guest list": is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? Think about these things! (Philippians 4:8)
We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17); "...the old has gone, the new has come!" What is our character like now? Maybe we aren't sure what it all means yet. But in scripture we have a wealth of resource at hand to delve into the depths of what we are to think, believe, and be. Not only that, but we have the help of the Holy Spirit also to teach us and lead us into all Truth. There exists no better life coach than he.
Every time we find ourselves voicing or acting out something that does not line up with the Truth of who we are in Christ, we have an incredible opportunity to stop and identify what negative belief we are holding to. Once located, to effectively remove it, we must replace it with a conquering Truth derived from our knowledge of the One who is Truth himself, Jesus Christ.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32
Disrobe yourself from the lies you are clinging to! Wrap yourself in true knowledge that leads to life—life abundant, dripping over, resplendent with righteousness, peace, and joy (John 10:10; Romans 14:17)!
Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put it like this:
"To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
~ 2 Peter 1:2-11
In Christ we are new creations. The Truth will set us free to live that way.