Saturday, November 12, 2011

Method Christianity

If you've ever taken a drama class - either in high school or college - or ever studied much about acting, you're probably familiar with what "method acting" is. In a nutshell, method acting is remaining in character AT ALL TIMES - even when cameras aren't rolling. Dustin Hoffman, Marlon Brando, & Daniel Day Lewis are amongst some of the more well-known method actors. The main reason behind doing this is that it allows the actor to better portray the character, because - in a sense - he/she has BECOME the person they're attempting to play. After awhile it just becomes natural to the actor - so much so that it becomes difficult to break character. When Jim Carrey filmed the movie "Man in the Moon," he stayed in his Andy Kaufman character during the whole filming period. Can you even imagine acting like somebody else for that long?

However, most actors tend to just turn off the character when the cameras stop rolling. - They go back to their normal lives and act however they want to act - and few see this side of them. I want to try and relate this to Christianity. Now, since we've taken on the role & responsibility of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are to act like one at all times. However, the tendency with many Christians is to "turn it on" when church is in session (or around church friends) and turn it off when the "cameras aren't rolling." Do you agree with this?

As Christians, we should be practicing the "method" technique. - Never turning it off. Everything we do, say, and think needs to reflect that of a Christian mindset - whether we're by ourselves or around others. Think about what Proverbs 23:7 says; "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Our hearts need to be in the right place - all the time. We can't just be acting when we walk in the doors of the church building and then be somebody different when we're by ourselves.

The word heart is used almost 1000 times in the bible. - It's obviously something that is extremely important to God. The actions we do, the things we say, the thoughts we have; they're all reflections of what is in our heart. We have to be strengthening it and protecting it from Satan. (James 5:8)

Most actors turn off their character when the cameras aren't rolling. But we're not actors - we're Christians and we have to make sure we don't step out of character.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Qualifying the Called

I read a quote recently that I thought was pretty interesting. It said, "God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called." This is a pretty awesome quote when you stop and think about it. Often times I find myself making the excuse, "I'm not good enough to teach others the gospel" or "I'm not qualified enough to do that..." I let myself think too often that I'm not good enough to spread God's word - and as a result, nothing gets done. Can you relate to this at all?

It's in times like those where we need to stop and think about all the people that God called on that weren't perfect people... In fact, the beginning of the quote that I used above also said the following; "Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old... and Lazarus was dead!"

So... what's our excuse? Right? Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:2 to "Preach the word - and always be ready!" There's no reason why we shouldn't be striving to teach others about Christ and lead them to him. If we wait till we feel like we're "qualified enough" then we might just lose the chance of leading another to God.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Failing to Forgive

We all know what a grudge is... There may be people in our lives that we hold grudges against OR who hold grudges against us. Two people could even be holding grudges against each other. And most of the time when a grudge is held, the people involved act very unkind to one another.

When we hold a grudge against somebody, it prohibits us from fully forgiving them from whatever they've done to wrong us. While it's never easy for us to forgive others when they wrong us (especially when they don't ask to be forgiven), as Christians, it's something we have to do.

One of the greatest passages of scripture that teaches us a lesson on forgiveness is found in Matthew 18. Jesus talks in verses 21-35 about an unforgiving servant:

21Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" 22Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.[a] 23"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[b]24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[c] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26So the servant[d] fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[e] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' 29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' 30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[f] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

This is a parable that I've read several times before but failed to notice something till just recently. I never thought twice about the "ten thousand talents" part of it. Ten thousand talents back then was basically an unfathomable sum of money. It would have been well over 100 years of work... just impossible to obtain. And it was immediately forgotten about by the master. While on the other hand, a hundred denarii would have been basically a day's work for a servant - yet the servant couldn't forgive his fellow worker and look beyond this. This is why this passage is so amazing. We do some horrible horrible things in our life - things that should have severe punishment - and we've done (and do) them time and time again. Yet, God is able to just throw them away - showing us the most amazing amount of grace and mercy. Yet, when others wrong us - even if its something small and trivial - we hold grudges and/or don't forgive them. When you read this parable it's so easy to say, "Wow, that guy's such a hypocrite for not forgiving the other servant!" - But we're just as guilty sometimes, are we not?

Forgiveness can be incredibly difficult at times. But if we're striving to be Christ-like in everything we say and do, we have to forgive all who sin against us.