The World Is A Stage
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee . . .
There was a time when I’d stop reading right there at the end of verse one and let my imagination take me wherever its little creative self wanted to go. Such scenes of grandeur my mind painted! The Church—rising victorious from the dust like an exhausted athlete suddenly gaining their second wind. She’s radiant with the light of Christ, vibrant with the life of Christ, glorious with the beauty of Christ. A formidable force to be reckoned with for sure. One evoking admiration among God’s creation. Glory!
(Okay, so we’re not there yet. But you just wait till God gets through with us!)
I’d then half-heartedly breeze over that next verse—For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people—because it was so, so . . . irksome, disrupting the marvelous flow of glory like it did. Darkness, gross darkness, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was that oh-yeah-and-that-too incidental God could’ve just as easily left off.
Extreme narrow-mindedness on my part.
It wasn’t until some time later that I realized God has good reason for placing darkness where He did. If ‘all the world’s a stage’, as William Shakespeare claimed, then God is the Playwright/Director/Producer of the greatest story ever performed on that stage[i]. He’s gone to great lengths to tell His story, to move the storyline along through history, to bring it nearer its climax where glorious Light Himself—the Heir and lawful Owner of all things—will take center stage against a backdrop of the blackest of nights.[ii]
With Him stands His Church triumphant, bathed in His glorious light. Men and women who are not merely players or performers in life’s drama (as Shakespeare also claimed), but potential heroes and heroines in Christ. Those who answer the call of God, fight the good fight of faith. Endure to the end.
Others will side with the villain of this story and if left to themselves will become nothing more than the backdrop for God’s glory. Human beings created in the image of God—someone’s mother, father, child, brother, sister—reduced to dark splotches in the dense gloom and anguish of pollution and immorality God calls gross darkness.[iii]
Their story shouldn’t end there, for Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.[iv] Let’s keep praying they are drawn to the Light, that their role in this greatest story ever told will also be alongside alongside Him, and us, at center stage.