Picture the scene - Part 1
Picture the scene. You have a friend who loves acting and drama. He lives for his acting career. One day he comes up to you announcing that he has landed a major role in a Hollywood blockbuster. This is his big break! He gets you and all your friends tickets to the premiere of 'his film'. For months he won't stop talking about it.
Eventually it gets to the night of the showing. The cinema is packed with his friends, family, neighbours, vague acquaintances, everyone! He walks in fashionably late and gets a round of applause from all his expectant guests. You settle into your seat, and the film starts. It's brilliant, and the all star cast has everyone on the edge of their seats; it's thrilling, dramatic, tragic, passionate, hilarious, romantic, magnificent. One hour, 36 minutes and 18 seconds in, your friend makes his appearance. He's an extra; you hardly notice him in the background, and within 7 seconds of being an unconvincing bystander, he's out of shot, and that's it. You realise it was never his film, the story was not his, he was just one of many many characters.
we give God little roles every now and then, but it's still us who decide when he gets a look in
Recently, God has been showing me that I have been very much like this guy. Christians talk so much about putting God at the centre of your life, but I had never really realised how big a challenge that is. Everything in us longs to be the main character of our own lives. Sure, we give God little roles every now and then. The little voice in our ear telling us to do the right thing, the one we pray to in bad situations and when we’ve done something wrong, the one who makes us feel loved, who gives us a sense of belonging and comfort. Sometimes, we give him really important roles, and devote lots of our time and attention to him, but it's still us who decide when he does and doesn't get a look in.
they are part of something bigger
I think if you were to open your Bible and read from Genesis to Revelation, you would find that there is never really a point where it's all about Adam or Noah or Abraham or Joseph or Moses or David or Elijah or Paul. They make their little cameo performances, but they recognise that they are part of something far bigger. Imagine David standing on the balcony of his palace, surveying his Kingdom. Everyone reveres and loves him, and he has power of life and death over everything. It would be easy for him to pat himself on the back, and revel in his role as national treasure. Instead, he sings, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ (Psalm 24:1) David, and all the other biblical heroes realise they are part of the grand narrative of history, in which God is the director, the main character, the hero and the victor.
The problem is that we so easily forget that. The world is hopelessly infatuated with each individual making their way in life. We are encouraged to make ourselves the centre of our life, and do whatever we have to in order to find people who bring us success, love, health, wealth, contentment and stability. If that means following a religion or believing in a god, then you’re welcome to do that. Whatever it takes! This attitude is a serious threat to our own spiritual health, and to our evangelism.
God’s role is to get me that A-grade, to help me sleep well.
An example of this danger from my own life has been exams. I am someone who cares deeply about work and learning, so exams are something I find difficult to release control of. If I am at the centre of my story, then exams are supremely important. Things will never progress how I want them to if I don’t have a good few qualifications under my belt! This leads to neglecting time spent with God in his Word and in prayer, neglecting relationships and Church because this is my story, and what I want is all that matters. God’s role is to get me that A grade, to help me sleep well, to make there be more than 24 hours in a day, and to stop nagging me with the feeling that I’m doing this all for the wrong reasons. I become inconsiderate, rude, distant, obsessed and spiritually barren. Why? Because if I only view the events of my life as part of my own autobiography, I lose perspective on the reality that I am part of something infinitely bigger, and that what I do and why I do it can either glorify or discredit the name of Jesus!
My plea to my own soul and to yours is that we would grow out of this self-centred approach to Christianity. Putting ourselves at the heart of our lives is the biggest step on the road to idolatry because the role of main character is something designed only to be filled by an Almighty God- when we try to fill it ourselves, it’s not just harmful and destructive to us; it’s sin.