February 8, 2018 • Life for Leaders
With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Like many Christians, I grew up believing that the only thing that really mattered in this life was going to heaven after this life was over. Because I had accepted Jesus into my heart at a Billy Graham Crusade when I was six years old, I was assured that I would in fact be in heaven one day. In the meanwhile, my chief purpose in this life, as I understood it, was to try and get as many others into heaven as possible.
Evangelism was, from my perspective, the only truly and eternally valuable human activity. Every other endeavor had worth only insofar as it was related to the saving of souls. So, for example, the farmer’s work mattered because it produced food that helped to keep people alive so they could hear the gospel and be saved. Also, farmers grew food that Christian missionaries could give to the poor so that they might be more open to the good news. Moreover, if farmers were successful financially, then this mattered also because it enabled them to contribute to their churches and other evangelistic or missionary efforts.
Now, let me be clear. I still believe that people are saved by God’s grace in Christ received through faith. We’ll get to this glorious truth in Ephesians 2. But because of Ephesians (and even Ephesians 2, by the way) and because of what I have seen throughout the Scriptures, I no longer believe that getting into heaven is the only thing that matters in life. If this were true, then, presumably, God’s plan for the fullness of time would be “to bring to heaven as many souls as possible through Christ.”
But that’s not God’s plan. His plan, according to Ephesians 1:10, is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” The original language of this verse is even stronger, revealing God’s plan “to bring unity to all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth in him.” Paul could simply have said “all things.” But, lest we neglect some of these things in our theology, he underscores that fact that the “all things” God intends to unify through Christ are both things in the heavens and things on the earth. In other words, all things!
When we remember the creation narrative in Genesis 1, when we bring to mind how much God enjoyed his “good” and “very good” world, then we shouldn’t be surprised that, in the end, God plans to include the things of earth and heaven in his plan for salvation and restoration. And when we consider how much the Scriptures bear witness to God’s care for this world and its creatures, we realize how it makes perfect sense for God’s ultimate plan to center in the unifying of all things. And, when we recall that God’s salvation comes through God becoming part of this creation in Christ, and when we remember the promise in Revelation of a new heaven and a new earth, then we shouldn’t be surprised by the “all things” scope of God’s plan.
In tomorrow’s devotion, I want to reflect with you on how this vision for the unifying of “all things” might make a difference in your life. For now, I’d like you to think and pray about this.
Something to Think About:
How do you feel about evangelism? Is sharing the good news of Christ something you do? Or want to do? Or try to avoid? Why?
As you think about God’s plan to unite “all things,” what thoughts or feelings bubble up in you?
Are there things on earth that God really doesn’t care about? Why do you think so? Or why do you think not?
Something to Do:
As you go through this day, remind yourself periodically that God cares about all things. Pay attention to the things around you that God cares about. Thank God for his generous and faithful care.
Gracious God, thank you for showing us that you care for all things, things in heaven and things on earth. Thank you for caring about the things of my life, even those that seem unimportant. Thank you for your plan that will one day unite all things in Christ, things on earth as well as things in heaven.
Dear Lord, may I live with your perspective, with a care for all things. Help me to learn not to discount certain things or activities because they aren’t “spiritual” enough. May I offer to you all that I am, all the time. May you be honored in every facet of my life. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Creeds about Work
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.