Monday, February 22, 2010

Choose This Day Whom You Shall Serve

My e-mail address is very to the point, "Read Joshua 24:15." That verse says, "Choose this day whom you shall serve [...] But as for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord." To me, this is the ultimate show of manliness, when the man of the household stands his ground and proclaims that his family will serve the Lord. I have no household, none that I can call my own, but I have a body which is a "house" of sorts. It is a home to the the Holy Spirit. Due to circumstances which I am not at liberty to discuss freely, I've begun to question a lot of things I once assumed true without a second thought.

Just over a year ago I joined a theatre company, but it was more than that; the theatre company was a ministry. I started out as an amateur actor without confidence or self-assurance and became a leader who seldom looked back at failures of the past. I was convinced that I was growing stronger in my faith, deeper in the things of God, and growing to have a better understanding of the things of God. I look back now and see that I practically dropped off the radar. I almost never go to church because I'm either performing or recovering from a long week of rehearsal, and I don't attend Wednesday night services because I haven't been able to connect very well with regulars except for the youth group who are all beginning to either grow up or transition from Jr. High into the Sr. High, which means they're significantly younger than me. I don't spend much time with my friends because I'm either spending it in rehearsal, recovering, or taking some time to myself to gather my thoughts. I couldn't tell you when the last time I've read my Bible is, which is something I've always struggled with, but this time it goes against my personal goal of reading the Bible in a year.

Now I'm not trying to say that the theatre company is all to blame, but looking at my spiritual growth since then, I think I've actually taken several steps back. To be honest, the theatre company relies more on personal revelation than it does on Biblical principle. Half the time that I do feel God speaking to me about an issue, it gets disregarded and forced to the back-burner until more artistic aspects are considered. I've choked down every excuse that was given to me, but I'm beginning to see the flaws and I cannot say that I'm proud of the things I let slide. I've watched so many things happen that were branded as, "attacks of the enemy" and really all it was was human error. It's so much easier to blame it on the devil, because then we don't have to take personal responsibility for our actions.

Folks, no matter what happens and no matter what kinds of pressure you are under; compromising is what it is. You can't say that you believe in profanity-free speech if you're swearing every time something goes wrong. Not swearing when things are going well is easy, but it's when you're stressed out that tests the integrity of what you believe and stand for. Over this past year, I have found myself becoming more and more of a hypocrite with every turn. I say one thing while doing the opposite. I get up on stage and preach to an audience about something that I say I believe and then cave to do the same thing in private. I now see that I've fallen so far, some people might have a hard time believing I was in ministry for a year; where is the fruit of my labor?

The truth is that I want to serve God. For the past year, I think I've been serving myself and my director more than anything. Sure, I gave God all the credit for my accomplishments and I said all the phrases that an exceptional minister of the Gospel would say, but the actions that followed say otherwise. If I am to serve God, truly serve Him, my life has to change. I have to repent for idle word and action, and start seeking Truth in the one place I can count on for reliability: the Bible. There is no truth higher than the Truth, and anyone who claims to know better than the Bible is a heretic. I need to redevelop my prayer life so that I'm not running to God only when there are problems, but that I go to Him for every occasion; that He is my first source for everything. I cannot piggy-back on others who claim to know more than me, because for too long I have allowed that to take precedence over finding the answers myself through God's Word. Don't get me wrong, I think that seeking the counsel of those who are wiser and more experienced is a good thing, but when they are your first line of defense against confusion is when you have too much reliance on them.

I won't say that this past year has been a total loss. The fact that I am here now running with arms flailing towards the Throne of Grace means that I have seen my error and can learn from it. I learned a lot about the difference between Biblical and personal revelation and which has more authority. I learned a lot about integrity and what it is to have it. I learned that trusting the spiritual authority over you is important, but not to the extent where you have to lie to protect them. I've learned a lot about being an actor and acting in general, which hopefully will show when I take more acting classes. I have learned that I should never ever put anything extracurricular before my studies regardless of what it is. That means that doing ministry should be secondary, not primary; God cannot honor your faithfulness to your other pursuits if your main objective fails because you didn't commit enough effort to succeeding in your first goal. Not going out to do ministry is not the same as neglecting your spiritual health. If you were so engrossed in your studies that you didn't take time to pray and read your Bible; that would be an example of neglecting your spiritual health. Ministry is for those who have a solid grasp of their responsibilities to society and to themselves and can manage the extra workload of reaching out to others.

The Great Commission can be fulfilled without an official ministry! For the longest time I believed a lie that I needed the theatre company to fulfill my obligation in carrying out the Great Commission. Now I see that every good deed and every kind word spoken is a seed planted in someone's life that could be pushing them towards the path of salvation. I may never be there for them to see them come to the saving knowledge of Christ, but if my conduct around and with them reflects Christ, then I have already fulfilled my duty to God in regards to the Great Commission. This isn't to say that I shouldn't speak and preach, because I must do this as well, but I don't need a ministry with all its titles to fulfill the Great Commission. It is a huge burden off my shoulders to know that I can do God's work just living my life as an example of Christ and His Love.

Anger at failure is not passion for success. There have been countless times where my director would get angry about something going wrong and then it would get written off as his passion for success and reaching the lost. Over the course of this past year in the theatre company, I began to believe this lie because I heard it so much and I wanted to believe it was true; the only alternative would have been to see that my director was just angry. When we fail, we may get mad at ourselves for failing, and when we do we only bring ourselves and those around us down. Passion for success starts when a person realizes their failure and makes a conscious effort to turn that failure into a learning experience to succeed in the future. The worst way to get angry at failure is when you get angry at other people's failure, or your own failure and blame other people for it.

There's a lot I still don't know and I'm in the process of digesting what I've learned, comprehending what I'm still learning, and changing the things about myself I see that I don't like. There's been a lot of hurt and betrayal come at me and it will take some time to heal, but I know that Jesus bore all that on His back for me. My mind may not be quite what it used to be from all the lies I've swallowed so that the truth conformed to the picturesque view I had of my director and the theatre company, but I am going to be going to counseling to undo a lot of the psychological and spiritual damage that was done to me. I just thank God I even woke up to the reality of what the situation and became aware of my present state of spiritual low.

Until next time,
De Facto

P.S. - In case you hadn't gathered, I am leaving the theatre company for good. March 1st is my last performance and my last time I plan to be associated with that "ministry".

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