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All things are yours! (July 8, 2004)

All things are yours! (July 8, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

All things are yours!

July 8, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0106}

NOTE:  A headshot of Whitaker is available at

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

While dealing with a mundane problem in the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul makes an amazing affirmation. He exclaims to those who are disciples of Jesus Christ, "All things are yours!"

As usual, Paul declares a great truth in his effort to overcome a small problem. The problem was that the Christians in Corinth had divided into parties who were loyal to different leaders in the church—Paul, Apollos, Peter, etc. Paul shows them they did not need to choose which human leader to follow because all of their leaders belonged to them since all of the leaders were servants of Christ and his church.

Paul wrote, "So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or death or the present or the future-all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God (I Corinthians 3:21-23)." While affirming that all their leaders belong to them Paul opens up a larger vision of the Christian life. He says that indeed "all things are yours," not only all your human leaders, but also "the world or death or the present or the future." Here is a vision of the Christian life that enabled the church to become more than a sect of Judaism. Here is the life-affirming, universal vision that enabled the church to become a great world faith.

According to this good news that "all things are yours," we who are Christians have the confidence that we should relate everything to our faith in Christ. Everything has relevance to our faith in Christ-literature and arts, movies and popular songs, philosophy and politics, science and history, eating and exercising, healing and dying, and so on. We have this confidence that we should relate everything to our faith in Christ because everything is related to Christ as the Incarnate Word through whom and for whom everything is created.

There is a tendency among some Christians to retreat into a ghetto and to let no thing enter their lives except that which is labeled "Christian." So people read nothing but Christian books, listen to Christian music, converse about Christian subjects and try to exist in a self-contained Christian world apart from the rest of the world.

Yet, if "all things are yours," then we are to engage the whole of life trusting that Christ is present in the world that belongs to him. In his "Journal" Thomas Morton described his enthusiasm in reading "Prometheus Bound" by Aeschylus. He said that reading this ancient Greek play was "a great religious experience" because Prometheus was the "archetypal representation of the suffering Christ." He explained how "Prometheus startles us by being more fully Christ than the Lord of our own clichés-I mean, he is free from all the falsifications and limitations of our hackneyed vision which has slowly emptied itself of reality." One ought not be surprised to find indications of Christ in a character depicted by a pagan poet since Christ is the key to all reality as the One in whom and for whom everything exists.

Of course, finding Christ's presence and purpose in everything requires skills of discernment. One has to separate what is Christ from what is not Christ. These are the skills we develop by knowing Christ himself by faith through Scripture and Sacrament.

A church that knows "all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God" is a church that affirms life and that can transform culture and society for it witnesses to the presence of Christ working his purposes in a world that does not know to whom it belongs and in whom is its salvation.


This commentary relates to Discipleship and Christian Living.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Annual Conference.