“You can either be an artist who represents himself as having had an experience, or you can be an artist who is, himself, moved.”At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how it went.
In any case, it’s what I can recall, and it is this concept that has rattled about and crystallized in my mind, inspiring me for the past eight years, not only in my work as an actress and a writer, but throughout my life.
The Christian’s life is not unlike the artist’s. Like the artist, a Christian is called to seek beauty and truth, not merely for his own benefit, but so that he can share that beauty and that truth with others. Both paths require the discipline of reflection, fearlessness to face the world with the eyes of inspiration, and courage to lay oneself down without any guarantee of human appreciation. Both demand communication, compassion, and continuity: An outer expression that reflects an inner spirit.
If the creative outlet of artist does not magnify the inner reality of the heart, then that artist is a fraud, a counterfeit, a liar. If the outer life of the Christian does not reflect the inner reality of the heart, then that Christian is something far worse: a hypocrite.
This hypocrisy can exist in two forms. The first is an inner spirituality that is not lived out in word and deed. The other is an outwardly “religious” lifestyle driven by anything apart from the love of Christ. Both the inner heart and the outer expression are vital parts of the Christian life.
inside-out” and “outside-in.” In the first, the actor builds a strong inner life and understanding of his character, and then that inner reality shines out as he begins to speak and move about. The “outside-in” school prefers to build up an outer reality for the character that will influence an inner experience. For example, Marlon Brando stuffed his lower lip with cotton balls to create just the voice he wanted to play The Godfather, and it was from this external starting point that the inner life of this iconic character was born.
You will find critics of both schools. You will also find phenomenal actors from either school. What you will also find are lousy actors who never made the complete circuit from either outside-in or inside-out, who stayed trapped in one reality or the other. In the end, it matters not how we begin but that, on the journey, we find our way to both the interior life and the exterior expression.
The same can be said of the walk of faith.
Some Christians find that daily disciplines and religious duties do, in fact, produce a rich inner spiritual life—not through any merit of their own, but because these disciplines and duties create an environment and a mindset that allows their hearts to be molded into the likeness of Christ’s.
Other Christians find that focusing primarily on the heart—and on the One who fashioned it—result in an outpouring of charity, modesty, generosity, gratitude, and all the other “trappings” of the Christian life.
And, then there are those who perform their religious obligations with no effect whatsoever on the heart.
There are others, still, who spend so much time navel-gazing at their inner spirituality and taking such comfort in what they find there that they feel no compunction to adjust their outer life or to share that inner world with those around them.
Whether you work from the inside out or the outside in, take care not to neglect either side of the balance. And, if you find a Christian who works from the other side, remember that both sides matter. One is not better than the other. To paraphrase the playwright whose name I have forgotten, it is only in the one-piece life of an inner spirituality united to a lived-out faith that we become the Christian who is, himself, moved by Christ.
Peace and grace to you on your journey. May you find yourself moved.