October 30, 2018 • Life for Leaders
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders, we focused on the oneness of God. Today, we’ll consider the allness of God.
Ephesians 4:6 emphasizes that there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” That’s four “alls” in one short verse, four uses of the Greek word pas, which means “all.” What does it mean that God is Father of all, over all, through all, and in all? What difference might this make in our lives?
We are helped to answer these questions by Ephesians 1:10, where we see God’s plan “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” “All things” rightly renders the neuter plural of the Greek word pas. God is unifying, not just people, not just Christians, but everything in Christ, every last thing. Later in chapter 1, God appoints Christ as “head over everything [pas] for the church” (1:22).
How then is God related to all things? First of all, God is the creator of all things. 1 Corinthians 8:6 affirms that there is one God, “from whom all things [pas] came.” Clearly, this refers to creation. God is “of all” in that he is the source of all things.
Deists see God as creating the stuff of this world and then standing back from it. Gnostics see God as completely separate from the world. Christians, however, see God as present and operating in the world he created. While affirming that God is not to be equated with creation, biblically-based theology sees God as deeply involved in his creation. God, through the Son, is “sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). And God is uniting all things through Christ (Ephesians 1:10). So, while God is surely at work in his people, and God certainly works wonders at times, Ephesians 4:6, along with the rest of Scripture, teaches us to see God as present and at work in “all things.”
To be sure, this is a mystery we cannot fully comprehend. But the fact that God is “of all… over all and through all and in all” is a cornerstone of Christian belief, upon which we can build a life of faithful service. Like God, we can and should be about God’s business, not just in the church and in our private lives, but in everything we do and in every part of life. If God is somehow involved in our work, our offices, our classrooms, our studios, our workshops, our athletic teams, our websites, our families, our finances, and, well, you name it, then we must live for God in these areas of life as well.
I close with a marvelous quote from the Dutch politician and theologian, Abraham Kuyper, who said over a century ago: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Can I get an “Amen” for that?
Something to Think About:
Do you think of God as being present in and concerned for every part of your life? Why or why not?
Does this way of thinking challenge some of the assumptions you tend to make about how to live?
How might you live differently today if you took seriously the fact that God is “of all… over all and through all and in all”?
Something to Do:
Talk with your small group or with a Christian friend about the “allness” of God. Consider in your conversation how taking seriously God’s “allness” might change your lives.
God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity. Amen.
P.S. This prayer is a version of a traditional Celtic prayer. It applies, in a very personal way, the theology of Ephesians 4:6. The Kuyper quotation above is from his address at the dedication of the Free University in Amsterdam in 1880.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Christ Created and Sustains the World (Hebrews 1:1–2:8)
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.