Theater as a Metaphor for Life

When I say theater I mean actors on a stage.  Watching a movie in a crowded room with a sticky floor is not the metaphor for life I’m thinking of.  

Imagine sitting down to watch a play.  The set looks great.  The costumes are wonderful.  It becomes clear very quickly that the actors have put in the time rehearsing scenes and memorizing lines.  But there is so much more going on that you – the spectator, the audience – do not see.  Backstage there are props and furniture pieces that haven’t come out yet.  There are people scurrying around in quiet darkness so as not to be seen or heard from the house.  There are people in the wings changing costumes and make up, and others in the booth controlling lights and sound.  The director may be sitting in the audience unnoticed while the stage manager runs around making sure everything happens that should happen.  During a scene with two people sharing a dialog, there could be 30 others working frantically on whatever is about to happen next.  If all goes well, what the audience sees is only what they mean for you to see.

Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage and we are merely players.  Maybe he wasn’t far off.  The Apostle Paul wrote “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)  We see so little of what God is actually doing.  Go back and read everything he reveals to Abraham.  God promises to make his offspring a great nation, but not until after they labor as slaves for 400 years in a foreign land.  He’s describing the Exodus events that take place in Egypt before Isaac has even been born (Gen. 15:12-16).  That’s just one example.  God has ordained the events of history.

At some point every analogy breaks down.  In one sense God is the director, the stage manager, and works in the booth.  But you and I haven’t been handed a script.  It’s sort of like improv, the sets change and different characters walk out and we have to respond.  Even then, improv actors know they are acting.  Most people think this stage is real.  People imagine they are actually in control of their lives and surroundings.  There was a guy in the Bible who decided to tear down his barns and storehouses and build bigger ones, but didn’t know that on that very night God was going to drop a sandbag on his head.

Mice don’t know they’re in a maze.  Those people victims on hidden camera shows are not improv actors, they are responding to what they perceive as reality right up until the reveal.  Many people are blind to the fact that God is in control.  It can be tough to walk in faith even for Christian believers.  When an actor enters a scene there may be a dozen different people that can ruin it for him; the lights could come on early, or another actor could drop a line or miss their entrance entirely.  Relax, God is in control.  Do your part, and rely on his promises.  Abraham didn’t have a complete script, but he put a lot of stock in the writer.

Keep the faith, encourage the brothers and sisters, share the Gospel.  Someday God will strike the whole set.  

5 thoughts on “Theater as a Metaphor for Life

  1. I loved this analogy! I’ve always enjoyed plays, and I’ve even been in one or two. It’s so true! In the Casting Crowns song, “Already There,” it talks about looking back on our lives once we’re standing face to face with God and seeing how all the pieces fit– like finally getting to read the script. So awesome!


  2. Anna, thank you for your comment. I looked at several of your posts (and commented on one). I would like to recommend your blog to my readers soon. I kind of just did :- D

  3. Great analogies here Clark – possibly the best I’ve read on the subject.

    I think our ‘should be’ response is summed up towards the end with: “Abraham didn’t have a complete script, but he put a lot of stock in the Writer.”

    The one certainty in life is that our God is in control, and that He cannot lie or break His Word, and His desire is towards His adopted children, willing and able to bless us more than we want to be blessed.

    What an amazing God!

  4. Reblogged this on Resting in His Grace and commented:
    In desperate need of a break from end times… there’s always an excellent place to travel for some refreshment. Clark, at the Master’s Table, provides a great message here… much needed for me, and possibly for you. Enjoy!

  5. Your analogy reminds me of Kim Hill’s song “Show the Way”
    It is love who mixed the mortar
    And it’s love who stacked these stones
    And it’s love that made the stage here
    Though it looks like we’re alone
    In this scene set in shadows
    Like the night is here to stay
    There is evil cast around us
    But it’s love that wrote the play
    In this darkness
    Love can show the way” Thanks for helping us to keep things in perspective!

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