August 3, 2018

God Owns It All

Last time, we affirmed that God created everything.  But, unlike the gods of some other religions, the One True God didn’t just create the universe and then leave it to its own devices.  Instead, God cares for his world on an ongoing basis.

Hebrews 1:3 affirms this: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”  When challenged by the Pharisees for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus himself said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 1:17).  Paul also confirms this when he mentions that in Jesus all things hold together (Colossians 1:17).

In fact, Jesus is the very reason that the world was created in the first place: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

So the universe was created by God and for God, and is sustained moment by moment by God’s power.  As a result, everything in it belongs to God.  David affirms this in his prayer of praise to God after the Israelites gave generously to build the Temple:

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;

you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Jesus pronounces God’s ownership in several parables, including the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27), the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19), the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9).

Realizing that God owns everything frees us from the burdens of ownership.  Do we suffer a financial reversal?  The idea that wealth never belonged to us in the first place helps us to see it not as our misfortune, but rather as simply an event in which God has allowed redistribution of that which he owns.  This isn’t an excuse to be careless with God’s resources, of course (more about that next time), but it can be a great comfort to know that the One who owns the universe is the same God who cares for and provides for us day by day.

Another result of the fact that God owns everything is that we don’t own it!  Jesus demonstrates this in the parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21), who accumulated so much that he had to build bigger barns to hold it all.  But when his life was over, it became apparent that he didn’t really own all that wealth, because it passed on to someone else.  Since life itself is not permanent in this world, it makes no sense to think that we permanently own anything.

This was the attitude of the men and women mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.  The writer says of Abraham, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Even the one who had received the promises never built a permanent home, because he realized that even the Promised Land here on earth was not permanent!

What, then, should be our relationship to money and possessions, if we don’t truly own them?  Tune in next time!