“So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future– all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
It’s no secret that our world tends to associate a person’s value and importance with their wealth. Who gets their names in the magazines and the newspapers? Unless you do something criminal, it’s the wealthy. Who gets elected to positions of power? Did you know that almost every member of the United States Senate is a millionaire? Who gets asked to endorse products before a television audience, or who gets invited to spend a night at the White House? Not many poor people that I can think of.
If wealth and importance go together, then you and I must be some of the most important people on earth! We own everything! Paul said it twice, “All things are yours.” That doesn’t mean that everything is our personal property. Rather, we are the children of the one to whom everything really does belong, and he has promised that he makes everything in this world serve you and me. There is no object, no person, no event that isn’t in our service as Christians in some way or another. In all things, God is working for you.
To help us understand, Paul gives us a representative list. Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (that’s the Apostle Peter) were three great leaders of the church. They were the common property of them all. The members of the church in Corinth had been dividing themselves into cliques that claimed to follow one of these men or another. But that wasn’t right. Each of these men belonged to everyone. And though they were leaders in the Church, God used them to serve the Church. He is still using them to serve the Church today through their words preserved for us on Scripture’s pages.
Life, no matter how bad, how painful, or how hard it gets, is here to serve us. Even at its worst it teaches us not to cling too tightly to this world. It forces us to throw ourselves on God’s grace in faith. Death, in spite of how much we fear it, in spite of how much we pay to avoid it, is here to serve us. Jesus’ resurrection makes it the door to heaven, and what could be a greater blessing than that?
Maybe time seems like it’s outside of our control. It is slipping away from us, running faster and faster. But in God’s loving providence even the uncertain future, which so often fills us with worry, is under our domain. It has to serve us, because we ourselves are the personal property of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
And so, like the rich and important people of this world, we have all these servants running around taking care of us. We can know that we are valuable, not because of some trumped up little boasts or wobbly supports for our pride we made up ourselves. No, our value comes from the God who gave his Son for us, made his home in us, revealed his wisdom to us, and uses all the wealth of his world to take care of us. We Christians hold all these treasures in common, gifts we have because God has treasured us all of us in common.