April 17, 2015 • Life for Leaders
Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”
Sometime in the last decade or so I started hearing the phrase “all that good stuff.” I think it happened first when I was ordering dinner at a restaurant. The waitress summarized the menu briefly, ending with “and all that good stuff.” Then I heard a television talk show host use the phrase. Pretty soon, it seemed as if a cultural dam broke and torrents of “all that good stuff” came pouring out. Even my dental hygienist used “and all that good stuff” to describe what she was about to do to my mouth. (For the record, I don’t consider any part of getting my teeth cleaned as “good stuff,” except for the free toothbrush at the end.)
Just to be clear, the phrase “all that good stuff” does not appear in Genesis. Yet, in a way, it could. In yesterday’s devotion, we considered the fact that God, after creating the world, saw that it was good, even very good. The writer of Genesis 1 spelled out in detail what God created: heavens, earth, light, seas, etc. A contemporary shorthand of that chapter might read, “God created the heavens, the earth and all that good stuff.”
Historically, Christians have had a tendency to neglect the basic goodness of stuff. We believe that the only thing that really matters is immaterial spirit. Yet if God made physical stuff to be good, even very good, we might do well to rethink our inclination to neglect or denigrate it. After all, at the end of time, we find, not ethereal souls floating around in a non-physical paradise but a new heaven and a new earth filled with all sorts of good stuff, like walls of jasper and a city of pure gold, adorned with jewels (Rev 21:18-19). That’s serious good stuff in my book.
Why does it matter that we acknowledge the created goodness of the stuff of this world? I can think of several reasons. I expect you could add to the list. For one thing, I want to care about what God cares about, to value as good that which God values as good. I want to admire God’s handiwork, even if it has been tarnished by sin. I want to be a good steward of all that God has entrusted to me, including the stuff of creation. Moreover, if I devalue the stuff of this world, then I tend also to devalue work that deals with physical things. I might think my work with ideas and words is somehow more important than the work of a carpenter. Of course, since Jesus, as God Incarnate, spent the better part of his life working as a carpenter, it may be wise to rethink the value of stuff.
Today, may God fill your life with “all that good stuff.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Why do you think many Christians have come to devalue the “stuff” of creation? In what parts of your life are you a steward of “stuff”? How might you live differently if you took seriously the goodness of all that God made?
Gracious God, thank you for making all things good. Even though sin has warped your creation, its goodness can still be felt. Thank you for the tender new life of a spring day, for the embrace of a mother, for the goodness of labor, for the wonders of human ingenuity.
Help me, Lord, to see this world as you see it, to value it as you value it. May I be a faithful steward of all you have entrusted to me, including my body, my possessions, my money, and “all that good stuff.” Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.