His Without Reserve
Christian Life

Staying in Character

           A man described as the greatest living actor had accepted the role of Abraham Lincoln in the 2012 film Lincoln. One day before the filming was to begin, the director, Steven Spielberg, received a call from the lead actor. He asked for the filming to wait a year.

          “It made me mad,” Spielberg said later. “But it was a master stroke, because he had a year to do research. He had a year to find the character [of Lincoln], . . . to discover how Lincoln sounded, and he found the voice. He had Lincoln so embedded in his psyche, in his soul, in his mind, that I would come to work in the morning and Lincoln would sit behind his desk, and we would begin.”

          Daniel Day-Lewis had immersed himself in the letters and records about Abraham Lincoln. He had studied descriptions of what he looked like and how he spoke, of his mannerisms and his posture. Why? Because he wanted to be sure that when audiences saw him on the screen, they would see all of Abraham Lincoln and none of Daniel Day-Lewis.

          That was how this great actor operated. All during the filming, Spielberg addressed him as Mr. President. No one on the set engaged in small talk between takes. Day-Lewis had assumed the characteristics of Abraham Lincoln. When he arrived for work he was Lincoln, attired as Lincoln, looking like Lincoln, and speaking like Lincoln.

          Throughout the filming Daniel Day-Lewis stayed in character.

          We Christians have spent a great deal more than a year learning about the life and character of Jesus Christ. We feel the warmth of His compassion, the strength of His fixed purpose, the power of His moral leadership, and the attractiveness of His teachings. We can see His goodness, His tenderness, and His wisdom in dealing with Satan.     

          Having read the Record about Christ, are we prepared to internalize the noble characteristics of our Savior? Are we willing to invite the Holy Spirit to show us how to stay in character moment after moment, day after day, year after year?

          How can this companionship with Christ become a reality? It requires more than singing James Rowe’s hymn “Be like Jesus all day long! I would be like Jesus.” It requires consistent dedication to Him without reserve.

          Staying in character describes you and me when we display genuine graciousness in all situations; when our honesty guides every transaction, when our temperament does not vary whether in moments of praise or ridicule. Staying in character means walking in our society just as He walked in His society. This for the redemption of the family next door and for the glory of God

          A colleague of Day-Lewis said, “He has integrity coming out of every pore. I remember asking at the very end, ‘Why do you work like that?’ And he said, . . . ‘Well, I don’t think I’m a good enough actor to be able to not do it this way.’”–Time, November 5, 2012.

          Somewhere in the records about Jesus it says “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Somewhere it is recorded that the Man of Calvary said to His followers: “Abide in me as I abide in you.” Somewhere in the archives of salvation is this testimony of a Christian: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Col. 1:27; John 15:4; Gal. 2:20).

          That widely acclaimed actor studied extensively so when audiences saw him on the screen, they would see all of Abraham Lincoln and none of him. Shouldn’t we study and pray to be filled with the character of Christ so when our “audiences” observe us, they will see all of Christ and none of us?