This week I encountered a story about actress Rooney Mara and her role in the soon to be released film, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” It seems that Ms. Mara beat out a number of what are known as ‘Hollywood heavyweights’ for the part. Her roles to this point had not included that of a dark character. She was told (presumably by her agent) to spend all night the night before her interview with Sony drunk. (She ended up throwing up all night.) After getting the role, her hair was dyed and shaved on the sides, her eyebrows shaved and they took her out for four body piercings. One author, after hearing what she went through to get the role and then have done to her commented that maybe the other women in Hollywood thought that not getting this role was not such a bad thing. What she was willing to do got her the role. It seems that she would have done anything necessary to get the role. The question was asked, “Was it worth it?” At what point does one lose what we are to get somewhere or some approval?
It raised in me the question of the desire I see among many of us who follow Christ to be accepted and respected by the world around us. We hope our love will bring people around, will help them see the goodness of the gospel. Sometimes Christ followers are willing to go to great lengths to show that we’re ordinary folk who struggle with the same stuff as everyone else. But how far are we willing to go? Where are the lines drawn? What are the boundaries for those of us who follow Jesus?
Scripture makes it clear, New Testament and Old, that if we choose God’s way, we will be running against the grain of society and often the church or religious community. I was struck in my reading this morning of the conversion of Saul who became known to us as Paul in Acts 9. Saul is struck blind by his vision of Jesus and God sends a man, Ananias, to pray for the restoration of Saul’s sight. Ananias objects and God sends him anyway. Tucked into the narrative is the description of Paul’s future ministry and the statement by God himself that “I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:16) Much of what we have in the New Testament are letters written to people encountering great conflict in the church and in their cultures — in fact Revelation chapter 3 lists churches struggling to survive the onslaught of hostile responses and Christians who do not stand out as different. But I don’t want a role; I want a genuine relationship with God. As much as I want to fit in with others or have their approval, at the end of the day, I don’t want it at the cost of truly being God’s. It reminds me that there are steps too far in other areas of my life that I’m not willing to take because they undermine that difference God is hopefully building in me. How about you?