by Brent Lewis
When we belong to Christ, we have truly grasped what life is all about, because we are living our lives “with the grain” of God’s truth rather than against it. The Christian is greatly blessed!
Sometimes I like to sit back and think about all the wonderful blessings we Christians have from God. Do you even do that? Do you ever stop to remember all the blessings and the good things God has sent your way? It does me a great deal of good to remember. My only regret is that I do not do it often enough. I suppose that I am not alone in that— most ot us spend too many waking hours thinking about the problems we have, the bills we must pay, the many imperfections we have.
It may be that much of the preaching we hear is responsible for some of this thinking about the negative. It is natural for the preacher to direct his comments against those things that need to be improved. However, if we are not careful our total emphasis can become negative. This is regrettable because most of the time we need to be thinking of the good that is about us—the encouraging achievements of the past, the great potential of the present.
It is a marvelous thing to be a Christian. There is a passage in the Bible that jumps out at us with this fact. It is one of those optimistic passages which sends you on your way with a song in your heart. Observe it with me, please; “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Paul, Apollos, Cephas.
Paul said that he and these other two men were theirs. Why would he say that? Go back to chapter one in the book and notice that the Corinthians had begun to call themselves after the man who had baptized them; to wear such a one’s name was, in a sense , to say they “belonged” to that man. Paul says they must understand that their religion is to be centered on Christ. They do not belong to their leaders, but rather teachers, preachers, leaders belong to them. I am glad that we, as Christians, have great preachers of the gospel and elders of the church. But we do not belong to them; they belong to us; their place is merely to serve; they have been provided for our spiritual good. We must not elevate men beyond their proper place. Abraham Lincoln once said; “Go along with any man who is in the right, stay with him as long as he is right, and leave him when he goes wrong,” That is exactly what we must do. But how grateful we are that God has provided great men such as Homer Hailey, Floyd Thompson, James P. Miller and Paul Andrews- they are ours!
World, Life, Death.
Paul says the “world” is yours. There never has been a time in our history when men have been so blessed as now. The scientific achievements of our age are truly incredible and we are greatly favored by the time-saving inventions and life- saving medicines of our time. “Life” is also ours. The life expectancy of an American man is now in excess of seventy years; American women can expect to live seventy-two years. Think of life as a great reservoir of hours and minutes which you are given when you are born. You can spend them here or there, doing this or that. You have a life, and that life is certainly a great blessing. “Death” is also yours; it is every man’s in one sense (Hebrews 9:27). But death does not have to be feared by the Christian; it is an ally rather than an enemy, for to him it is “gain” (Philippians 1;21—23).
Things Present, Things to Come.
There are so many encouraging things in our present society. People are now more interested in religion than ever before. Books with religious emphasis are flooding bookshelves in the 1980’s. There are more people who call themselves Christians now than at any time in the history of the world. This is good, even though many of them are mistaken about what it takes to become a Christian. Further, I believe l see a deepening spirituality among Christians which emphasizes the spirit as well as the letter of the law—one that makes us all pray more, study our Bibles more, and try to be more like Christ. That is what I see when I read the expression “things present” in the text. And because these things are so, it suggests the next phrase, “things to come.” We have a splendid future if we center our lives on Christ.
Ye Are Christ’s, and Christ ls God’s.
Now, here is a statement that is really inspiring! Paul repeats the expression “All things are yours”-then adds the reason why—”Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” The future belongs to us only because we belong to Christ. It is because we have embraced those truths which Christ came to teach that we have such confidence of future good. If we take Christ out of our lives, our houses are built on sand.
But notice that the future belongs to Christ and His disciples because He belongs to God. Go back to the time of Jesus and suppose that you were walking down the street, and you began to stop men and ask them, ’Who of our time will the future historians remember?” What names do you think you would have heard? Pilate? He was a governor of that time. Herod? He was the king. Surely Caesar would be remembered. I’ll tell you what name you would not have heard’: Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth. No man would have named his name. But the strange thing is that the future did not belong to Pilate or Herod or Caesar, In fact, most of us do not even know which of the Caesars was on the throne when Jesus lived.
The future belonged to Jesus because Jesus belonged to God. And when you and I belong to Jesus, our future is every bit as sure as His was. When we belong to Christ, we have truly grasped what life is all about, because we are living our lives “with the grain” of God’s truth rather than against it. Paul tells us precisely what Christianity is all about when he says, “All things are yours.” Count your blessings.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984