Have you ever watched a Marvel superhero movie in theaters and wondered why everyone around you just erupted in cheers and applause even though nothing happened? That’s probably because Stan Lee, the co-creator of Marvel, had a cameo in the movie. In the Marvel films, he might appear as a bartender, a mailman, a bus driver, or a security guard. And he often has just one line. When you know, you know. Before his death, it was always exciting to see where he might pop up in the next film.
Like the co-creator of Marvel appeared in its various films, the author of history has written himself into its story when God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. As we believe and confess, Jesus Christ was not simply another man who arose as a deliverer for God’s people. He was God-made-man—truly human and truly divine. He is God himself, the one who created the world. Here’s how the apostle John wrote of it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1, 14).
The difference between Stan Lee’s cameos and Jesus Christ’s incarnation is that Jesus doesn’t play an extra; he is the main character. His role in the script is not for fun; it is the gravitational force that compels the entire narrative. The Lord doesn’t just write himself into the story; he reveals himself to be the single hope we have all longed for, although we’ve been searching for it in different ways.
A Greater Story
As those redeemed by Christ, we become connected within the grander narrative of history. This is exactly what the apostle Paul was getting at when he spoke to a crowd of Greek philosophers who all had their own ideas for where we fit in the storyline (Acts 17:24-31).
Paul makes some important distinctions between their view of God and the God who is there. Here’s one: God is not a God who happens to be aware of your life and is cheering you on in your personal pursuits. He is the God who gave you your life and is calling you to himself through Jesus Christ.
This is one reason some churches begin their worship services with a call to worship—to remind ourselves that we’re not gathering for worship in order to express ourselves, but because God has summoned us to declare his glory. As we do, we are renewed and redirected to the calling he has on our lives. There, we find greater peace and joy than “expressing ourselves” could ever provide.
A Greater Purpose
The longing to be part of a greater narrative is only satisfied when we respond to God in worship and live for his glory, because history’s author and your creator are one and the same. So how do we pursue our roles in this redemptive narrative?
As the apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s handiwork” (emphasis added). We are not our own. We were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
To pursue our roles in God’s redemptive narrative, we must receive his greater purpose for us and walk by faith in the callings he’s put before us—in our families, at our jobs, among our friends, in our neighborhoods, and at our churches. What may seem in your life as mundane and even pointless is all accounted for by the author of your life. In all these things, God has appointed good works for you, and he has promised to work out all things for your good (Eph. 2:10; Rom. 8:28).
Your life does not find its significance in the shallow, temporary accomplishments this world acknowledges and in which you shine as the central character. Rather, your significance comes from God uniting you to Christ and commissioning you as a light of his gospel. As we walk in the good works God has prepared for us—loving him and our neighbors, following Jesus, and making disciples, we will write ourselves right out of the world’s script and find ourselves in a much grander narrative.