v22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future.
Death, the present, the future–I want to group those last three together because I think they are related.
Let me read from Matt 6:31-33.
Matt 6:31-33 – 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
If you are a pagan and you don’t have a relationship with your heavenly Father, then by definition, you are a spiritual orphan. That means life is what you make of it. You have to run after what to eat, what to drink, what to wear. Such a person is plagued constantly by worry because everything rides on them. That makes sense.
But for the believer, we don’t need to worry. Why? Because we are not alone. God loves us. He knows what we need. He knows what we are lacking physically and materially, and just like earthly fathers provide for their children, our Heavenly Father knows our needs and He gives good gifts from above.
Not only our present needs, but our future needs have been met in Christ. While everyone is trying so hard to avoid death, we can be confident in the face of death because we know it’s not the end, but a beginning. Our future is secure. Our eternity with God is a done deal if you are in Christ. That is such a gift, to know that no matter how bleak things may look in this life, there is a bright future ahead of us. It’s a gift. It frees us to enjoy the present. You don’t have to be scared of death. You are not bound by worries or burdens like what to eat or what to wear. You have the Father’s love and He knows your needs as well as your burdens.
To be a child of God, we have to unlearn the wisdom of the world that we have been drinking in since day one. Life is not all up to us. Life is meant to be in constant, dependent fellowship with God. We have to learn how to be a child again. No wonder Jesus welcomes children to himself.
v22 ends with “all are yours.” That’s great news. All things are mine–the church is mine, life is mine, death is mine, the present is mine, the future is mine, everything is for me to enjoy. Everything is a gift. Sounds great. But we have to read the final verse.
23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
What does this mean? For my kids, all is theirs. They don’t have to ask–may I enter?–when we get home. It’s their home, too. But the mortgage is under my name. So technically the house belongs to me and I give my children access to privileges such as having a roof over their heads and running water and electricity. They are not free to do whatever they want. They have to abide by my rules. They can’t just eat junk food whenever they want. All is theirs, but I pay the bills and I lovingly give things to them at the appropriate time to train their character and so they won’t be spoiled. Because I know what is best for them.
The same goes for our heavenly Father. Is everything ours? Yes. But you are of Christ. Meaning, you belong to Christ. Christ is the owner of all good things. He is our Creator so he owns everything in this world, including each of our lives. Jesus bought us, he redeemed us with the blood shed on the cross. If you are a believer, this means you belong to Jesus.
Does Christ give us everything we want? No, because he doesn’t want to spoil us. So we have to submit to God. If things don’t happen exactly the way we want, we have to submit to Jesus. In other words, we have to trust. He knows best. We belong to him.
Interestingly, Jesus models submission to us. The same way that we are of Christ or we belong to Christ, it says, Christ is of God. Wait a minute–they are equals. Jesus is God. Jesus and God are on the same level. Yet Jesus belongs to God. He submits to God. Jesus submits to God even though He and God are equals.
How much more, if Jesus can submit as an equal with God, we are not equals with Jesus so shouldn’t we submit to Jesus knowing that we belong to Him and everything in this world belongs to Him and He knows best?
How do we know if we are living according to the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of God?
Simple test: check your heart day in, day out. Is your heart characterized by: constant worrying, constant second guessing, boasting one moment and insecurity the next, frustration, loneliness, lack of direction, lack of peace.
Or is your heart characterized by: trust, joy, peace, patience, the fruits of the Spirit, thanksgiving, humility, purpose, and a deep sense that you are loved by God.
That’s a quick test. What if you find yourself in the first camp?
The application is simple. Pray through the gospel. Prayer is basically the same thing as the gospel. Prayer is a reversal of the Fall. Instead of God, I don’t need you, we say, God, I can’t do life without you. It is coming to Jesus in our helplessness, in our sins, laying our burdens down at his feet, coming to the foot of the cross, and believing that the Father delights in me–even if my prayers are messy because life is messy. Know this. Jesus forgives you. You can come to Jesus as you are and He will welcome you with open arms if you repent and place your faith in Him. This is the gospel. Prayer reminds us that we are not orphans, but we are beloved children of God.
Let’s take up this great privilege to pray to our Heavenly Father each day. Let’s do life through constant, unceasing prayer.
In closing, I have two final comments. To the younger ones, you are going to be faced with many important decisions. And if you take the Word of God to heart and allow God to speak to you, you will make some decisions that will draw criticism from this world. You mean you graduated with a science degree from an elite school and you believe in God? You’re going to turn down that job offer, that admission because of your faith? You’re a fool. Faith is fine in moderation. Just do your Sunday thing, but don’t let it spill over into the rest of your life. You’re being naive. You’re being fanatical. This is just a phase. It’ll pass. And the mockery will go on and on if you take your faith seriously. When that happens, I will pray for your courage to stand by your convictions.
To the oldies, we’ve all made decisions that made the world scratch its head. Some of you turned down good job offers or good grad schools to stay near a quirky bunch of Cal grads. Others stayed on the mission field longer than you planned during a time in your life when you should have been focusing on your career. Some of you chose to sell everything and move your entire family to missions amidst the persecuting voice of family and friends. More than one of you let go of a comfortable career because you heard a voice of God calling you down a different path. Some of you are well established, you make good money but you choose each day to live modestly and give to others generously. Many of us moved around countless times so that we could continue to serve God together. You’ve stuck it out. And somehow by God’s orchestration, we ended up here in Pasadena through the unlikeliest of circumstances. Thank you for being here.
The world may look at us and say, what a bunch of fools. Why are they still playing games with college students? Don’t they have better things to do with their time? Why do you drive all the way to Pasadena every week when you live in Irvine? What a fool! Who’s the fool?
I just want to encourage you. God sees everything. God remembers your sacrifice. He sees your heart. We may be fools, but I’d rather be a fool for Christ than a fool for this world. Life is short. Let’s be a fool for Jesus again. It’s the only way.