The Problem of Protagonism

I did not set out change the world because I thought I could or should, but because it seemed to be my duty as a Christian. It never occurred to me when I was a younger man that this was a false notion until I was given reason to question it. It seemed that every other Christian my age had also been told that God wanted them to change the world. It did not take college level English courses to deduce that God, being the Author of Life, would have made a very poor decision as a writer to have six billion protagonists. The problem is that as merely one of billions of supporting roles (or worse, extras!) I had zero claim to fame within the story of life. I was not “called” to change the world, but to merely make a better place of the tiny spot on which I stand. So what’s in it for me?

The old “what’s in it for me” question is too common among us Christians. Throughout history – Old Testament, New Testament, and now – people have asked that question of God to their own demise. I’ve been thinking about this as we develop the characters and their back-story for our upcoming Spring touring show On A Hill Far Away. What if we focused on the amazing fact that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, is loving and brilliant enough that He gave each of the billions of extras a name and a history? What author goes that far? How many times have we seen “third boy” on the credits of a film, instead of a name and an origin story and a motivation?

This is the focus that sets Christians apart.That we do away with the fight to become the protagonist of a story, and decide that Jesus alone is the hero of the only story. We volunteer as extras, and become supporting roles only in as much as we give glory to Him. We find our worth in the truth that God, in His love, when we were mere extras on the side of a villain, allowed us to switch to the winning side, gave us a name, a history, and a motivation. Bad writers fail to give their heroes good motivations and back-stories, while God, the Author of Life, writes both perfectly for even the smallest supporting role. Perhaps the most effective way to change the world is to make the little bit of space that we occupy better in the name of Jesus. And of course the most ineffective way is to play a lead role in a story that will bomb, instead of taking a supporting role in a story that will never be forgotten.

Talk to me.

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate, The WordPlayers