All the world’s a stage: a parable for our time.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players, with entrances and exits …”
(‘As You Like It’, William Shakespeare.)
When God created the Universe and the world (Genesis 1:1) he created the most fantastic stage set there ever was. But ahead of the coming of any actors upon the scene he had also written a great drama that even the greatest of them would find amazing. Just for a moment be amazed by the set – in the distance the heavens can be viewed with stela glory. The immediate background shows the wonders of the creation as we view them every day.
He then created the first pair of performers and explained to them the role he would like them to play in the unfolding drama. As the second scene began disaster struck. These two actors wanted to take a short cut to the final drama – they did not appreciate that for the whole scenario to work it would have to be played out as the Director had previously decided. Happily the whole scenario had been devised, by the great Producer so as to take into account variations, not to say disasters, caused by the actors trying to change the story line.
As the play has unfolded many other actors have come and gone.
Some indeed have observed the intentions of the great Director and have struggled manfully to play out their part, believing that there would indeed be a grand finale in which they would play starring roles. They each developed their own vision of where the play would end, based upon the script – none would be disappointed.
Sadly others- many others, have come upon the scene and refused the part they were given to play. They have spent their time examining the scenery, asking how this came to be and experimenting with the script which had been provided. The script of course explained, why the drama was unfolding. It gave them a picture of who the greatest Star in the whole performance was to be and how it would inevitably end in its great climax. But, whilst some actors waited in the wings, unseen, for that final moment, others simply dropped out, sitting in the audience, wondering, because the alterations (made by other people) in the Creator’s script bamboozled them, deceived them into thinking that the scene in front of them was all they would ever see. Somethings they found the action worth applauding, at others they could not understand but either way they did not want to be part of God’s great drama or really part of what the actors were doing in their time on the stage.
It has to be said that much of the action apparently gets out of control and is frightening. The rate at which changes come to the script, made by the participants in the drama, in order to make it appear more exciting, come upon the watchers is appalling to the point where there seems to be only chaos and thoughtless upheaval. Great battles rage across each scene.
The Director, himself, sometimes apparently seems to lose interest in what is going on, but then intervenes in order to bring peace for a time and get things back on track. In point of fact whilst ever the scenes are progressing there are some actors who are, as best they can, following the script and because they trust that the Director knows what he is doing they successfully navigate each set as it changes with his help and promptings.
There was the flood, in which the whole stage was covered, not to say swamped, in water for a time, but afterwards as the waters receded the Director reaffirmed His interest and carefully arranged evidence through a rainbow that spanned the whole stage as a reassurance that his planned drama was still on track. Throughout the action there were other hints that His purposes were being fulfilled. He chose specific individuals (prophets) and then a nation (Israel) to carry on His script.
There were also hints in the script that there would be the most wonderful actor, Jesus Christ, through whom the whole drama would be held together and enabled to come to its final conclusion.
He is, after all, the Super Star. This one actor was actually born on stage, amid the apparent chaos, lived, died when all seemed lost. He amazingly came back to life in a wonderful sub-climax. It was as if it was a great rehearsal for the greatest finale to come.
Interestingly this one actor, would engage more and more of the supporting cast whilst more, more and more would sadly make clear negative decisions not to bother with the main story. This one superb Actor is able to help all others with their own part, enable them to conform to both script and blend with the back scene provided by God. No one notices that he is acting at all; it has been said,
“He’s a natural!”
What this one special actor did show, particularly, was that the Director loved everyone and was constantly engaged in all that happened on stage. He was all unseen directing events toward the final grand finale. Even those with apparent bit parts have the Director’s full attention. In fact, to those who watch him closely, the whole project can be seen to be progressing. And what the Super Star brings to his role is indeed challenging to others but for those who adopt his acting method, who follow his instruction, there is an inner conviction that they are part of something wonderful.
They are empowered to be fully part of all that the Director intends.
Clearly, because of the self-delusion of those who ‘do their own thing,’ the whole drama is headed for a violent conclusion. Towards the end there has to be a cataclysmic event, a great climax – with all lights out there are frightening noises ‘off’ when apparently all seems lost, the stage itself shakes alarmingly.
The chaos results in the scenery being spoiled, seriously damaged even. The whole atmosphere on stage is contaminated by the action of men, it is revealed, who simply do not care. Most of the time actors are falling out amongst themselves – there is serious fighting even though there are efforts to keep out of it. People are breaking up into smaller and smaller groups hoping to create happier subplots. Dramatically it will come to its end. Through it, as the lights slowly come on again, there will be a pacific time – ‘God’s day will finally dawn, His golden beam content’ (Christadelphian Hymnbook 91). Jesus Christ is back centre stage! God’s glory, His shining brightness fills the stage – the ending He had in mind from the very beginning of peace and happiness on earth will come about. And all those, actors, from all ages who have, in faith, manfully played their part, are there gathered before the King. On this the curtain will never fall.
This is not just entertainment – this is real life.
“ For God loved the world so much that he gave his only (begotten) Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die (perish) but have everlasting life”
John 3:16 TEV