The Oneness and Allness of God, Part 2Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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 reflection, we focused on the oneness of God, the one God who is Spirit, Lord, and Father. Today we'll consider the allness of God.
At the end of his list of basic Christian "ones," Paul adds, "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (4:6). That's four "alls" in one short verse. 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?
Some interpreters of this passage read the "alls" as referring only to people, to those whom God is bringing together in his church, those who will experience the unity of the Spirit mentioned in verse 3. Surely, the "alls" of verse 6 include human beings in the church, but I believe Paul intends even more than this.
Once again, we look back at Ephesians 1:10, where we learn of God's plan "to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ." "All things" rightly renders the neuter of the Greek word panta. God is unifying, not just people, but everything in Christ, every last thing. Later in chapter 1, we see that God has appointed Christ as "head over everything [panta] 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 came." Clearly, this refers to creation. God is "of all" in that he is the source of all things.
Deists, who see God as separate from the created world, see God as creating the stuff of this world and then standing back from it. Christians, however, see God as present and operating in the world he created. Some believe God is at work only through his special people (Christians) and in special works (miracles). Yet, 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" (Heb. 1:3). And God is uniting all things through Christ (Eph. 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 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!' "
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: 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"?
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. from Mark: 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.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.