1 Corinthians 3:21-23. So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
All things are yours. Yes, all things- Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), the world, life, death, the present, and the future. Yep, that pretty much covers everything.
But why does Paul make such a big, bold statement at this point in the letter?
Remember, the Corinthians are very “spiritual” and they were boasting about which bible teacher they followed, and then division and jealousy ensued. It was a mess. But “to live is Christ” means that you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (v. 23). God has everything, so Christ has everything. And since you are in Christ, now you also have everything.
So why on earth would you choose a “team” to be on? Why pick Paul or Apollos over Cephas as your approved bible teacher when God has given you everything and everyone to learn from and enjoy? And for that matter, why cause division at all? Why do we feel like we have to constantly choose a side on every issue? All things are ours! The cosmos is ours. All the universe is for us to learn from, and this includes all of its people. We pick sides so we can feel justified and gain worth. But why not learn from everyone? The cosmos is yours! So enjoy everyone in it!
Let’s stop and consider what else we might be missing out on as Christians when we fail to see that all things are ours! When we go around dividing the things of life into secular and spiritual categories, and then shunning the “secular” things, aren’t we missing out on all that God intended for us? The things of the universe are still the good gifts of God. True, we must resist putting these things above God- creation over Creator is idolatry. But it is also true that we are given everything in the universe for our benefit and for the benefit of the Church. When you are in Christ things become just things, rather than gods. The things of life no longer have to rule me or destroy me, nor do I have to destroy them. Rather I can learn to use them for the glory of God.
Take sex for example. Sex is part of the cosmos (the world v. 22). It is ours. It is for the good of the church. But it must be bounded by the law of love (think 1 Corinthians 13). This is why Christ bounded it by the marriage covenant. Sex without covenant is harmful to our hearts, minds, and bodies. Sex without marriage is unloving. So sex is from God and it pictures Christ’s love for us. His covenant. Therefore sex within marriage is one of the all things for the church.
Or think about the word death in verse 22. If anything is bad and evil in this life it must be death, right? But death also belongs to you now. Just as it belongs to Christ as your head who conquered death. Everything serves to exalt you and bring you to glory. Including death. Death is no longer just our punishment or the wage of sin. It is now our doorway to Christ in his fullness! Death is for the church.
“To live is Christ” gives you the universe. It gives you the past and the future. It gives you life and death. It gives you everything in this life to experience, learn from, and enjoy when bounded by the law of love.
Do you spend most of your time as a Christian thinking about the things you have to avoid, give up, or refuse? Are you willing to think through how everything and everyone is a gift from God and can glorify God when we are living by the law of love? How does being Christ’s make everything in the universe ours? How would your life change tomorrow if you really believed this?