I love the academic work that goes into building a character. I enjoy studying the script and researching the context and finding ways to put that history into my lines.
It’s probably why I enjoy directing and writing so much. But there is one thing an actor can do to take her performance to the next level without all the books and background work. Put on the costume.
It’s amazing how putting on a flapper dress and pair of character shoes can transport you to New York in the 1920’s.
Since the day Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover their shame, costumes have been a part of our story. Whether you’re a surgeon, a post man, a chef, or a detective, dressing the part is as important as knowing your lines.
The Bible has a lot to say about the costume of a Christian. In Ephesians 6:11-18, Paul encourages the believers in Ephesus to wear the armor of God.
"Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit — which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints." – Eph 6:11-18
"and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” - Eph 4:24
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t make plans to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Romans 13:14
“and have put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator.” Col 3:10
A Costume Analogy
I realize the analogy is not perfect but consider this with me.
When you are cast in a role, your name is written on the cast list. You are Peter Pan. Smee. Fairy #2. Whatever. You are now that character.
You then embark on the rehearsal process, working with the director to become that character and serve the story.
Do you see the analogy? The Bible says salvation is a done deal for those who believe in Jesus Christ and claim him as their savior. But we are included in the work of sanctification, the process of becoming more like him, through the daily dressing up in our costume. We are invited – encouraged – required! – to use our brains. We get to make intentional choices about how we will think and behave in the part we’ve been cast to play.
How do we do this?
By putting on the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of gospel peace, the helmet of salvation and by learning to use the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. (I highly recommend Do Not Depart’s recent series on this topic if you’re looking for more in depth devotions!)
In other words, Bible study, prayer, and training (community) with other believers.
These are the tools God has given us to know Him.
Do you know how to study the Bible for yourself? There is nothing wrong with relying on teachers to explain things, but at some point, you must know how to read and understand it on your own. I recommend the Script Study, (available for purchase November 1st!). Wherever you are in the faith journey – a brand new beginner or a seasoned scholar, you can discover new layers to old stories by looking at the Scripture through artistic eyes.
Do you have a daily habit of prayer? I recommend Hello Mornings a great resource for establishing a regular quiet/devotional time.
Are you connected with other believers? Going to church or youth group, a Bible study, or even having a friend who holds you accountable in growing your faith is so vital! All the World a Stage has a small (growing) community page on Facebook, specifically for artistic believers to connect with other artistic believers, and p.s. The Script Study is perfect to do with a small group!