There’s so much to love about about Boiler Room (2000) a dark and witty drama about the “white boy way of slinging crack rock: becoming a stock broker.” I never gave much thought about the movie in theological terms, partly because there a lot about it that is not compatible with Christianity, but it is compelling and entertaining. I was surprised to find Ben Affleck’s character, Jim Young, coming to mind when I was busy thinking about what we are called to do as Christians. Jim Young is not a major character in the movie, but he does have an “in your face” all-out honest conversation with the new recruits to the stock firm where the story line centers. In his “welcome” speech he tells the guys to “act as if.” While this is followed by lots of vulgar references and language not suitable for mixed company, it rings true.
(Image courtesy of cnbc.com)
John Wesley, one of the founding participants of the Methodist Movement, had an experience on March 4th, 1738. Mr. Wesley was constantly struggling with the notion of assurance, to know that you are saved from your sinfulness by God’s love. In a period of doubt, he spoke to Mr. Peter Bohler about his doubt of continuing to preach when he himself lacked assurance. Mr. Bohler told Mr. Wesley to continue preaching, and when Mr. Wesley questioned this, Mr. Bohler told him:
“Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith” (Wesley’s Works, Vol. 1, page 86).
John Wesley took this advice to heart and enacted it. He chose to “act as if” he had faith and preach it. According to him, it worked and he found his faith again. He does go on to cite how this began to bear fruit in his ministry. If it worked for John Wesley, then it can still work for us. You wake up on Sunday morning, too tired and really wishing you didn’t have to get ready and go to worship. Act as if. Get up and act like you do. Perhaps you will end up being glad you went to worship that day. When you are just too busy and uninterested in reading some scripture each day. Act as if. Open that bible and read like you know you’ll get some truly special communication from God. Perhaps you will read something new, something in a way you never have before. If you know that God wants you to take part in a mission or ministry, but you can think of a million and one reasons why you can’t or think that you might not really want to do it. Act as if. Like Mr. Wesley, you might soon discover that you are not only doing good work, but enjoying yourself.
There comes a day, or even a period of time, in even the most committed Christian’s life when you have to act as if. One of the ways we get though periods of inactivity, questioning, and lack of desire and come out on the other side is to act as if. I might not agree with much that has come out of the mouth of Ben Affleck, in or out of character, but Jim Young has a point. We have the ability to actualize ourselves. So do it. Act as if.