With Hollywood’s award season in full swing there is one massively popular film from last year that’s largely unrepresented in the nominations; Skyfall, the most recent James Bond film, may not be recognised by the Academy, but it’s still playing in some cinemas four months after it’s release. The franchise is a massive success story and it all started in 1962 with a Scots boxer and actor called Sean Connery. His depiction of Bond in the 1960s defined the character’s personality for that generation and beyond. “Bond, James Bond,” became an instant success.
So how did Connery pull it off? How did he make it look so effortless to fight, run and everything else in a finely tailored Brioni suit? The author of the bond books, Ian Fleming, had misgivings about Connery getting the role; how could a Scotsman more used to jeans and sweaters look at home in fine tailoring? For director Terrence Young the answer was to make Connery eat, sleep and live in a tailored suit until it became second nature. Fleming was won over and Connery, for many people, became the quintessential Bond. I think that there is an important lesson from this for us; we can’t just put on our faith to try and act out a role. It’s essential that we have real, lived in, character changing faith.
The point that Fleming understood is that people notice the details; it isn’t enough just to act as though you’re comfortable in the clothes you wear, you genuinely have to be comfortable in them. Sure, a person can apply the name Christian to their life and spend their Sunday at church and make all the right noises but that isn’t what the gospel is about. At the core of the gospel message is that we become Christlike, that a change occurs in us and we become a new creation. If we’re not exercising a real and lived in faith then people will see through it; they will notice those little details that show we’re just playing a part. We need to eat, sleep and breathe as new creations in Christ. Paul describes this process as putting on Christ.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
– Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV)
On a Sunday, at church, with a lot of like minded people around us, we can find it a good place to raise the bar in our lives. Church community should make us more aware of the fruits that the bible says God wants to see in our lives; it should remind us of the colossal need for grace, patience, love, etc. It should provide an atmosphere where we become more like Christ. The exact same responsibility to love people and show them the grace of God that we feel in church needs to spread through every day and everything we do. What seems attainable in church, however, can often seem a little less so when a taxi driver cuts me up in traffic and my finger starts itching to give him a signal that they certainly didn’t teach us at cycling proficiency.
So what does this mean? Honestly? It means that I’m a bit different on a Sunday to how I am on a Monday; I’m going out on a limb here and suggesting that you probably are to. I think that the important thing is where the real you is. I may find it more challenging to exhibit all of the fruit of the spirit in my work place or on the road but it is something I am committed to doing anyway and something that I am growing in. My Sunday face isn’t a mask, it’s the real me in an environment that stimulates it’s growth. It’s the prototype of the me I want to see in my workplace, it’s where I learn and grow in the things I want my life to exhibit more of. Part of our journey is growing our lives in every area to be more Christ like. It doesn’t mean we’re being fake if we are better at it on a Sunday, as long as we’re actively seeking to bring that fruit into every area of our live. Christianity is a twenty-four seven thing.
We need to be living out our faith every day, even when it is challenging for us to do so. Our faith is not challenged most when we’re in an environment full of other faith filled people but when we are going about our daily lives. It’s Monday to Saturday that what we learn on Sunday gets tried and tested. How are we when our patience is tried in an office where we’re the only Christian? Or when unsaved family are complaining that you spend to much time at church? When we put on Christ it’s not just for Sundays, as though church services were some splendid masquerade ball, it has to be for ever and always.
Gustave Flaubert would say, “Le bon Dieu est dans le detail”, or, “The Good God is in the detail”. Just like Ian Fleming knew that the details would give the game away when Connery played Bond, if we’re just playing at being Christians? The details will give us away. Equally, when we’re outliving a real faith then God’s strength gets shown even in our weakness. Even when we fail, the way we fail and get back up will be showing people Jesus. The details of our life will point people to Christ. This is our new and improved self, it’s you Mk2.