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Are you the main character?

August 6, 2012

There are few things in life I love more than a good story. In fact I reckon most of us love story telling.

For millennia people have been sharing stories; whether it be bed time stories or soap operas, nursery rhymes or movie blockbusters or even celebrity gossip magazines. Whatever our tipple – we love to sink our teeth into a nice old narrative.

Every great book or movie will have a main storyline with the main characters. Yet at the same time this main storyline will be comprised of lots of little individual sub-plots.

For example one of my  favourite films of all time is Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’. The overarching story is of an ex-military gladiator taking on and killing an evil emperor in order to give Rome back her former glory. However within this main plot we have lots of little individual sub-plots, such as the success and victory of Maximus as a general in the Roman army, the affection shared between Maximus and the late Emperor Marcus Aurelius, or the treachery involved as Commodus kills his father and becomes the new Emperor, or even the blossoming romance shared between Maximus and Lucilla amongst others.

These sub-plots are crucial. In fact if you don’t have the individual sub-plots then you have no main storyline – which means no story!

It is my firm belief that the gospel and all of life follows a similar pattern. There is a main storyline that exists that I think could be summarised in the following way:

The God of the universe comes to the rescue of His disobedient creation for the glory of His name and the benefit of His people.

This statement is obviously too simple and can be unpacked a thousand times over but the point is that this main storyline is unpacked through an entire history of sub-plots.

In the Old Testament we have the story of the shepherd boy David rising up to defeat the giant Goliath – a story that most know well. It’s a story with its own individual detail and merit – but it also belongs to the main storyline of God rescuing His people.

Between 1750 and 1850 we have the story of ‘The Industrial Revolution‘, which again is a story with its own individual detail and merit – but this too belongs to the main storyline of God rescuing His people.

You might at this stage ask – how on earth are either of those stories related. With a little bit of study and hard work it’s easy to see how they both work together for the main narrative but that’s another blog for another day.

The main thing is for us to realise that our lives are sub-plots that work towards the big story of human history.

As harsh as it sounds our lives are actually all about Him. We are not the main characters in the stories of our lives, Jesus Christ is, understanding this will have the following helpful implications:

  • We are better equipped to tell the difference between legalism and grace. Legalism leaves us feeling that we need to work harder in order to earn God’s approval. However grace teaches us that Christ is the hero and because He has already worked to take away our sin and replace it with righteousness then we don’t need to earn God’s approval at all – It’s not that we now have to honour God with our lives, it’s that we now get to.
  • We are also far more likely to see our lives in the way they ought to be seen. A soldier who recognises that he belongs to a mission is happy to give his life for the cause of that mission. If the soldier sees only his own life and fails to see the wider mission then he will be reluctant to give anything to the cause. So it is with us and the gospel, if we see our lives as the main storyline, if we consider ourselves as the main character then when God calls us to take up our cross and follow Him we are reluctant.
  •  We are more hopeful. If our lives are the main storyline then our understanding of the gospel will be pitiful. Knowing that our lives are only a very small part of God’s global rescue mission means that we can be full of hope, even when we seem to be experiencing very little in the way of progress. “Of the increase of His government there will be no end” even if right now in my life it doesn’t look like that’s true.
  • We appreciate the power of the Gospel. Recognising that it’s not just my town or city that needs the gospel, but rather the whole world. It’s not just Britain that the gospel can permeate and change but every single culture that exists – church looks a little different culturally wherever you go even if it serves the exact same purpose universally – that’s glorious!

These are just a few small reasons why seeing Christ as the main character rather than yourself actually benefits you. I wonder if you can think of some other ones?

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