1 Corinthians 3:21-23. 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas (Peter) 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.
Let’s follow the logic here shall we? 1) All things belong to God. 2) Christ belongs to God. 3) You belong to Christ. 4) Therefore, all things are yours.
Sadly, many Christians see their faith as primarily a list of things that are off limits. A “to-don’t” list of things you’re not allowed to do. Many Christians have grabbed hold of the scripture that says “love not the world,” and as a result they see holiness as rejecting all things instead of receiving all things.
But our union with Christ says all things are yours. God, the greatest giver in the universe, has freely given us all things in Christ. Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, and the future. That pretty much covers everything.
Write this down somewhere – In Christ 1) We do not love the world, and at the same time 2) Everything in the world is ours to enjoy when bounded by love.
Let’s take the problem in Corinth for example. The “super-spiritual” Christians in Corinth were boasting about which Bible teacher they followed, resulting in all kinds of jealousy and division within the church. Such division is worldly. It is part of the word’s system that we are not to love – “love not the world.”
But on the other hand these Bible teachers (Paul, Apollos, Peter) are part of the world that God has given to us – all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world…all are yours.
If everything is ours in Christ, including these incredible Bible teachers, then why on earth would you choose just one? And for that matter, why do we feel like we have to constantly choose a side on every issue? All things are ours! We choose sides so we can feel justified and prove our worth. But this just limits our worship of God. The world is ours! Why not receive it all? Why not learn from it all?
Growing up the world was divided for me into “secular” and “sacred” categories. “Secular” movies, music, art, books, were no good. “Sacred” or “Christian” music and movies were allowed. “Sacred” jobs, like pastor and missionary, were a higher calling than “secular” jobs like nursing, or construction, or business.
But this is a tragic error. When we go around shunning “secular” things, and exalting “sacred” things (categories that we have created btw), aren’t we limiting the Spirit? Aren’t we rejecting good gifts that he has given us? Yes, we must resist putting these gifts above God – “love not the world.” And, of course, some things are black and white and must be shunned. Sin is not ours to enjoy. But most of the world is gray. It is a matter of conscience and freedom in Christ. Most of the world has been given to us as the common grace of God to be enjoyed within the law of love.
And here’s the beauty of seeing the world this way – only now can everything fall into its proper place in our hearts. These good gifts from God are not God. They’re just things. Things that no longer have to rule me, or destroy me, nor do I have to destroy them. Rather I can learn to use all things for the glory of God.
Take sex for example. What if sexuality was just sexuality? Not God and not evil. What if it was just a good gift from God bounded by the law of love. Not our identity and not our enemy. What if our sexual desires were a gift from God and a way to know him more? Maybe then sex could be for us and not against us.
Or what about death. Death? Yes, it’s on Paul’s list (v22). Death is ours. How could something so bad and evil be listed as a gift from God? Because, in Christ, death is turned upside down. What was once our enemy is now our friend. In Christ, death serves to usher us into life, and glory, and peace, and joy. The wage of sin has become the doorway to salvation. Through Jesus even death is for us not against us.
“To live is Christ” means all things are yours. The world. Life. Death. The future. The past. Everything in this life is for you 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?
You in Christ
How does being Christ’s make everything in the universe ours?
Christ in you
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?
Playlist: All things.