An Extra In Someone Else’s Story
It’s freeing being an extra in Someone else’s story.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” — John 1:1–3
This is how the grand story of God starts. This story is a historical account of the life of Jesus Christ, written by John, the son of Zebedee, one of Jesus’ first-century friends and students. In 21st century language, here is what John is saying: God existed before spacetime. Before anything else existed, God already was. But God wasn’t alone — another Person was there with God, and this other Person was God. Not two Gods. One. (There is no definite article in the Greek, so it would be a mis-translation to say “the Word was a God,” as in, another God.) This Second-Person of the one God made all things at the direction of God, and nothing that was spoken into existence was created apart from this Second-Person. Oh, and John goes on to say that this Word was “made flesh” (John 1:14), meaning that the Second-Person of God, who is God, also became a real, living, breathing human being.
In short, Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh, created the cosmos in its entirety at God’s direction. In other words, when Moses records (in Genesis 1:26) God saying, “let us make man in our image,” that’s God the Father saying to His Son, “here, do this,” and Jesus did it.
All of this is important, because it sets the stage: Jesus Christ created everything in our spacetime cosmos — all of the 200 billion stars in all of the 200 billion galaxies across the observable universe. All of the varied species of animals and insects and planets. (Why this makes more sense than the naturalistic, evolutionary story is a separate, but important discussion.) If Jesus created everything, that begs the question: “why?” God answers this elsewhere: “For by [Jesus] all things were created…all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16) All things were created for Jesus.
All things were created for Jesus.
We get another picture of this when Jesus, raised from the dead, talks with two of his followers on the road to Emmaus about all of the Scriptures that point to Him. (Luke 24:25–27) Put another way, the whole Bible (all of God’s written word to humanity) points the reader to Jesus Christ. If all things are for Jesus (or as I like to put it, using Jesus’ preferred title for Himself, “For The Son of Man”), then we can ask the next obvious question: what is our place if this story it is about Him and for Him?
It’s as if we are extras in a movie not about us. We’re not the main character — at best, we’re a part of the supporting cast. From one point of view, we’re like an unfaithful bride in a romantic comedy (read the book of Hosea). From another point of view, we’re doing well when we don’t think of ourselves as that important. We’re like an extra that supports the main character. This is not to say we don’t have dignifying stories or respect or meaningful parts to play. It’s just to say that this story really isn’t about us, not primarily, and never primarily. We will at best always be a supporting character or extra in a drama that is not about us.
This is good news. When the world revolves around us, what we do is super important. Especially in our youth, we tend to operate like Jim Carrey’s character in The Truman Show, thinking that everyone if focused on us and that the world revolves around us. As we grow up, it’s easy to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction: that no one cares about us, and that we’re not at all important. But this too is a mistake. The point isn’t that we’re not important, it’s that we’re not of primary importance.
When we can relinquish the control of needing to be the first in our lives, of needing to command the attention and respect of everyone whose opinions we value, then we can start to live lives that are free. This freedom is only completed when we are free to live for the One who made us for Himself. If Jesus made everything, and everything He made both points to Him and is for Him, then to live in light of this means we are living in reality. To live as if the world revolves around us (or that we don’t matter) is to live in a fantasy world. We do have dignity because God made us in His image (Genesis 1:26–27) and because He loves the world (John 3:16). But instead of living in a fantasy that casts us in the wrong role, we’re doing best (and living most freely) when we live in the role we were made for — as an important yet supporting character, who is like a little extra on the side of the screen, yet one that is loved much and counted as a person of great worth by the main character in the story, despite our minor and insignificant status as extras.
That is grace. Welcome to reality.