Spiritual Truth You Can Depend On

Filed under Discipleship, Holiness, Nature of God, Truth

Merely Players

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…” There may be good reason that this is touted as the most quoted Shakespeare line of all time. Taken from Act II of, “As You Like It,” there is a wealth of insight into the character of man that can be taken from this quote. Consider the parallel between the world as we see it and the characteristics of a stage production. A storyline is conceived by the playwright, put into a script, the stage is set and the players convey the intention of the writer. Imagine if there were no script and all the players, (all of humanity), simply chose to act as they pleased. Without a plan to follow, the end result would be the confusion of utter chaos. Now look at the world in which we live.

The world acts as though it were making its own subtext for a play it has never read. One group decides to play by one set of lines and another by another. Most of the world is little more than a cast of millions of walk-on players whose sole function is to simply be on stage. They have few, if any, lines to speak, they follow no stage direction and they end up being an obstacle to the players that are trying to follow the script. The problem may be that the bulk of the cast has never read the script in the first place. But what script? How are we to know the lines if we never got a copy of the play?

I have heard many times that, “Life doesn’t come with a set of instructions,” but it does. The thing is; we choose not to look at them. I know that men are not supposed to need help; we would happily drive in circles for hours before asking for direction and to admit that we were incapable in any regard is to show outwardly our deepest weaknesses. I can, in most cases, assemble a piece of Wal-Mart furniture intuitively but living life is far from building a Saunders bookcase! There are varying estimates, and an accurate number is most likely forever elusive, but about 7.5 Billion copies of the script have been printed and distributed. This is from a source that is estimating printed versions only, and only as of 2007. The Bible is without question the all-time best-seller, the most widely read book in the history of literature. Prior to the printing press, the Bible was copied by hand and related though oral tradition for centuries.

Am I saying that the Bible is the script for all the world’s players? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. If we had all of the Bibles ever printed in circulation today, we would have enough for every person on the planet to have a copy. Think of a world where everyone had, and trusted the same plan for humanity! The problem remains that not all of those copies still exist, many homes have more copies than the number of people in the home, (between my wife and I we have at least 10), and the worst problem is that in many of the homes that do have a “script” the players living there never bother to read it. There are a multitude of excuses for not looking into God’s word but none of them hold up.

Some people are afraid to surrender to the direction of the heavenly, “Director,” some think they can better their role through ad-lib. A lot of folks don’t want to surrender their own will to serve in a capacity which might better all of humanity and stick to their guns in foolish, ill-advised stubbornness. Many reason that if they read the Bible they will have to go to church, give up their Sunday mornings, stop… (fill in your favorite vice), start caring about people they can barely tolerate now and a whole host of other things that they, in their current condition, refuse to do. Many of these things do begin to happen but not as a loss to the person they are at present, it is more at the gain of the new person that the Spirit of God conforms them to be.

The caterpillar may be afraid of heights and adamantly refuse to climb a tree only to throw itself off for the sake of the sensation of flight, but the butterfly shuns the ground for the lofty heights above. The caterpillar did not lose or become forced into anything at all; the gift of flight was bestowed upon the butterfly as a result of its being changed. The life we led before our conversion is as distasteful to us as born again Christians as the prospect of the Christian life may be to unrepentant worldlings. Many things come and go in our lives without them being the result of loss or depravation. We take on the activities of adulthood and put away the favorites of our youth without feeling any loss whatever.

What might be a major deterrent to more players joining the script-reading people could be that they want to see the complete play on the printed sheet before they are willing to step into their role. This is where the faith and trust in the Playwright come in. The play of life is one that is a succession of seeming rewrites. Not that God ever changes the big picture but when we step out of line, things change so that the purposes of God get accomplished regardless of the missteps we might make. We cannot know the way our earthly lives will end but we can trust that the One directing this play we call life does know, and He wants the very best outcome for us. We try to live our lives by the script but when we step out of line we are handed a rewrite. Our lives may twist and turn in ways we find unexpected but nothing happens that can surprise God.

The actors in any Broadway production thrill to the applause of the audience but are really striving to do the best job they can to capture the direction of the story the writer has given them. In acting, as in our walks of faith, the more experienced players help the novices. We need to share whatever level of maturity we might have attained this far in our journey with the players that are just finding the stage. The junior actor may find a mentor who will guide their growth and point out the flaws in a constructive way: “Do you realize that you say, ‘Umm,’ a lot?” We need to be available to help the new Christian in their walk and be examples of the benefits available to those players that work continually toward following the script.

I can’t think of any endeavor in life, be it social, occupational, athletic or recreational where the participant actively strives to do things in the hardest, least effective way possible. Who wants to be a mediocre anything? We are told in Scripture that we are to do everything as one doing it unto the Lord, (Colossians 3); would God be pleased with a half-hearted performance? “God knows I’m not perfect and He knows that anything I do is going to be less than ideal so it’s OK.” This may be true to an extent, but we are not excused from doing the very best we can to fill the role God assigned us when He cast this play called life. Why should we accept, or resign ourselves to mediocrity? Sure, we will fail sometimes, we will see thousands of rewrites in our lifetimes but we are never to settle for a “B” quality performance.

With all the world as our stage, and we being merely players upon that stage; even though we might be sure we will never win the Oscar, let’s see if we can’t live lives determined to be nominated in the category of best actor. Let’s, by our performance, make those not on the stage wish to be actively engaged in accepting the role they were meant to fill, inspire the other players to give better performances, not just the performances of our lives but performances which are…

All for the Glory of Christ

A Cup?

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