With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his
will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for
the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and
things on earth.
There’s an old expression about the problem of not seeing the forest for the trees. It can happen when we get so absorbed in the details of something we don’t see the big picture. It can happen to me as I read the Bible, a chapter here, a chapter there, a story here, a story there, and I miss the big picture of what God is doing.
Let’s step back for a bit and wide-angle lens God’s redemption story. Or, to put it another way, if we had 30 seconds in an elevator, how would we explain to someone the Bible’s grand story? No one could improve on Paul’s ‘elevator pitch’ in today’s Scripture (Ephesians 1:8b-10) as he lays out the big picture in just a few words. Paul reveals God’s plan, what He is up to in your life and mine, even that of the cosmos!
Paul calls it “the mystery of his will…his good pleasure…a plan for the fullness of time.” And what is God’s plan? It is “to gather up all things in him [Christ]”, including “things in heaven and things on earth.” Ponder that for a moment! It’s big! Then consider The Message translation of Paul’s words:
God set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
Henry Ford said “history is just one damn thing after another.” It might seem at times that Ford was right. There’s one hurricane after another, one terrorist attack after another, and we wonder where it is all going! But the Bible assures that when history runs its course God will “gather up all things in him [Christ]”. God will put together all the broken pieces! God’s plan throughout the ages is to gather up all things in Christ. We might not see this happening today, or even be able to imagine the wonder of it, but God “accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will” (Ephesians 1:11). It is something we can rejoice in!
Tragically, the secular culture is reduced to the nihilism and despair expressed by French writer Andre Maurois:
The universe is indifferent. Who created it? Why are we here on this puny mud-heap spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am quite convinced that no one has the least idea.” (Cited by William Barclay, Daily Study Bible)
Scratch beneath the surface and the message of prime time TV, movies, pop music, media, or academia, is the same: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/That struts and frets upon the stage/And then is heard not more: it is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing.” (Shakespeare, Macbeth). But God’s big picture is this: He is working His plan, His eternal purpose to gather up all things in Christ Jesus!
When my two sons were little they enjoyed the 80’s TV series “The A-Team”. They delighted quoting the show’s catchphrase: “I love it when a plan comes together!” The Bible’s big, big picture is this: God has a plan that will come together, a plan to gather up all things in Christ, even you, even me.
So in the midst of all the horrific news on TV, friends battling cancer, relationships coming apart, and wars and rumors of war, we can know that God has a plan for the ages. History is headed somewhere. God will heal all that is broken! He will make all things new! Rejoice! I don’t want to miss the forest for the trees!
Grace and peace,