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14th April, 2010

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It's not all about you

Don't know about where you live, but here in Oz advertisers have been tripping over themselves lately to convince potential customers that they, the merchants with a product to sell, exist to make you happy. Nothing new about that; what is new is the brazenness with which the lie is peddled, reaching its fullest expression in the line, "It's all about you". As if they could care less about you and me!

The line has tremendous power because of a simple truth - we are an incredibly self-centered species. Let's face facts; for almost every human being, the axle on which the universe turns runs right through them. Garrison Keilor expressed it well in one of his dialogues. A man and woman, each already married to another spouse, were on the verge of running off with each when the woman expressed a concern - what would the church think about such behavior? The man replied, "This is much bigger than the church; this is you and me".

The most fundamental truth is simply this; God is everything. A critical corollary to this truism is this: humankind is nothing. Spiritual liberty comes from recognizing the infinite value of God and the near worthlessness of man. Maybe this idea doesn't sit well in a man-centered world, but it's in line with God's thinking. He tells us so:

Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless (Is. 40:15-17).

If mankind is "less than nothing", then each individual today amounts to about one six billionth of less than nothing! Cemeteries are full of the bones of those who thought they were indispensable. God may miss the dead, but He doesn't need them. And He doesn't need the living, either. To God each one of us is precious. But by comparison with God, all of

us put together are. nothing. Consider this eye-opening passage:

For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:25-28).

What does the clause "that God may be all in all" mean? Unfortunately, "all in all" seems to be one of those disarmingly difficult phrases to decipher. It appears only three times in the New Testament (see also 1 Cor. 12:6 and Eph. 1:23), in none of which is its meaning obvious. The original readers, of course, would have understood precisely what it meant, but we are left making educated guesses based on the context. I'm betting that the RSV translators hit the nail on their head with their rendition:

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be everything to every one.

For the first part of eternity, Jesus Christ, an integral "part of God", will serve as God's user-friendly interface between Himself and His saints. The time will come when God will enable us to see the Father in all His glory, at which time Jesus will be "reabsorbed" into the fullness of God. At that time, God will be "everything to everyone"; we will be overwhelmed by what we see of Him. For all eternity we will continue to see more and more of His greatness and goodness, His power and perfection, and will revel in it. Fellowship with billions of fellow saints will bring immense pleasure, but by comparison with the indescribable bliss of intimate personal contact with God it will be as "nothing". Can you grasp that concept?

It's not all about you; it's not even all about us. It's all about God. You want to be free, happy and fulfilled? Then love God with all your heart and soul and mind. Love others as yourself, and love yourself way less than God.


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