February 1, 2018 • Life for Leaders
[God] 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.
In yesterday’s devotion, we discovered that God has a plan for the universe. In the fullness of the times, that is, when the time is just right, God will execute his plan for all things.
Now, given the vast size and long history of the universe, we might expect God’s plan to be mind-blowingly complex. And yes, in one sense, it is. Yet, from another perspective, God’s plan is also astoundingly simple. It is revealed in relatively few words in Ephesians 1:10: “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (NIV). Other English translations prefer, “to unite all things in him” (ESV); “to gather up all things in him” (NRSV); or to “gather together in one all things in Christ” (KJV). These translations iron out the wrinkles of the Greek of verse 10, which could be translated more literally, “to sum up everything in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth, in him.”
Now, hearing that God’s big plan is to sum up all things in Christ, you might feel a bit perplexed. Perhaps you’re wondering: “Wait, I thought God’s plan was to save as many souls as possible through Christ? What’s all this stuff about summing up everything in Christ?” Don’t worry. We’ll get to salvation by grace through faith in Ephesians 2. That’s part of God’s plan, a glorious and essential part. But it’s not the whole plan. Rather, salvation is part of what Ephesians 1 refers to as God summing up all things in Christ.
So then, what does this mean? English translations rightly convey the unifying sense of “summing up.” In Christ, God is bringing all history to its rightful conclusion by tying together all things. To put it differently, through Christ, God is bringing together all things, uniting them according to his eternal purpose. Through Christ, all things will be brought back into the unity God intended for them from the beginning.
In Monday’s devotion, we’ll work on why all things need to be unified in Christ. For now, however, I’d encourage you to reflect on what God’s plan suggests to you.
Something to Think About:
When you think of God bringing unity to all things through Christ, what do you envision? What would this look like? Why is this necessary?
As you think about your own life—your work, your family, your community, your church—where do you need to experience the unifying work of God in Christ?
Something to Do:
Suppose for a moment that you were a talented artist. If you were going to paint a picture illustrating God’s unifying all things through Christ, what might your picture look like? What would you feature? What colors would you use? What impression would you want to make?
Gracious God, as we reflect on Ephesians 1:10, we realize that we can grasp only the tiniest part of your plan revealed here. Still, we are astounded by the fact that you are bringing unity to all things through Christ. This is a mystery indeed. It is a wonder to behold!
Lord, I sense brokenness and disunity in my own life. I know how much my heart is divided by sin. I think of relationships that are not what they might be. I remember tensions in my community and among my colleagues. And I think of the headlines that daily proclaim the brokenness of this world. How much we need the unity you offer! How much I need it in my own life! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
A Pastor’s Perspective on Work in the Bible
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.