“So, what roles can I do?” “Where’s the line?” “What’s okay?”
Drama students always ask me these questions and for ages, I asked them as well. But I've realized we’re asking the wrong questions. It’s not so much a question of what can I get away with, how close can I get to the line, will I get in trouble with Jesus? We need to be asking: have I given my whole life to Him, how much more of Him can I know, how free can I get?
I can’t tell you what roles you can and can’t do. I can let you in on my process, with the Holy Spirit, of figuring out what roles took me away from Jesus, were harmful to my real life, and dishonoured His name. But I can’t draw up a table of yes this is okay, no you can’t do that. Having said that, when I sit down with a student, I will always challenge the roles they've taken, the things they're writing, how they are in the rehearsal room. Because I think Jesus does take this really seriously, and we need to make sure we’re making decisions because we’ve prayed and considered why we do what we do, not just going for every opportunity we’re offered because we’re worried we might not get another shot.
Before I was a Christian I would have done pretty much anything because I felt like I had to do everything my tutors said and I thought that if I said no I would never 'make it' and my life would be a failure. As a Christian, Jesus gave me permission to say no, to know that I don’t have to do things out of fear because with Jesus I’ve already ‘made it’.
Through the process of surrendering all of my life to Him, the Holy Spirit gently took me to a place where I, in complete freedom, laid down acting. With total joy I know I will never perform again in the ways that I used to dream of anyway. Jesus might not do that for you because I know He wants actors who love Him in theatres, movies, all over the industry, but... he might. And If you’re in a place where you’re not ready to lay all of your dreams down for Him, ready to die to it all and give it up if He asks you, then you’re not in a place where you can even begin to consider what you can and can’t do on stage. Only from a place of total surrender will you be able to figure out what honours Him and what doesn’t.
The same is true with any degree, we all need to surrender our ambitions to Jesus. With theatre, it’s just more obvious because you can get thrust into the public eye in a second. With everything we do, every desire and dream we must lay it at the foot of the cross.
You can be the star in a West End show and be honouring Jesus, you can be in a Hollywood film and be honouring Jesus. You can preach on a Sunday and not be honouring Jesus, have given your whole life to charity and not be honouring Jesus. Because it’s not just about our public deeds, but our hearts, our motives, our intentions.
Jesus gives us total freedom, life in the full, and He raises the bar for what honouring him with our whole lives looks like. He's good, He's kind, He won't shock you or trip you up. He wants the best for you. So do you trust Him? Do you feel free when you think of Jesus, or do you feel like He's limiting you? Have you laid your whole life down?
The Holy Spirit wants to help you, but you have to let Him.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?