All Things

For all things are your servants (Ps. 119: 91b).

So, what are things? Isn’t it strange how hard it is to define such a common word as “things”? I mean, things are . . . well, just things. Like everything is a thing. Rocks are things, trees are things, planets are things, families are things, governments are things, essays are things, poems are things, theories are things, universities are things and people are things (though not just any old things).

The Bible has something to say about things in several places. Take Psalm 119, for instance. Psalm 119 is about the glories of God’s Law. Unfortunately, because it is such a long psalm we seldom read much of it and we hardly ever get as far as verse 89 and following. Here is Ps. 119:89-91 (NRSV):

The Lord exists forever;
Your word is firmly fixed in heaven
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
You have established the earth and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand today,
For all things are your servants.

Notice especially verse 91b: “for all things are your servants.” Servants. That’s what things are. Servants of God. Notice that the psalm doesn’t distinguish between living and non-living, human and non-human; no, it says that all things are God’s servants. Rocks are servants, trees are servants, planets are servants, families are servants, governments are servants, essays are servants, poems are servants, theories are servants, universities are servants and people are servants.

Good things

Being a human servant is not all that popular a thing in our “me first,” individualistic society. Servanthood smacks too much of servitude, of having to subsume personal gain and pleasure for the benefit of others.  But whether we like it or not, all things are servants of God. Things can be faithful or unfaithful servants to God, but servants they are. The non-human creation serves God unwittingly – though, because of the brokenness brought into the world by sin, not always perfectly. Human servants can choose to serve God or some other god, and they can use the non-human creation to aid them. For example, I taught at the King’s University for many years before my retirement. The name The King’s University confesses that this institution belongs to King Jesus and that those who work and study there are servants of this King. But not only are the people things of King’s servants, so are all the other things as well.

It is the business of a Christian educational service institution to help students to come to understand, for example, that a science experiment is a thing that can serve God and neighbour or the idol of human pride in dominion, or how music is a thing that God has created for service and praise to him and his people; how an English essay is a thing of words intending to be of service in reflecting clarity, economy and felicity of communication; how a government is a social thing called to do justice; how the human relationships studied in psychology and sociology are things that are intended to bring shalom and grace to our lives; how an economic market is not an autonomous thing that we must serve, but how it is to be a thing that serves God by allowing for a fair distribution of God’s good gifts to all people; and how the Bible is not a thing with which to beat unbelievers over the head, but God’s written invitation to all people to his party of grace.

The New Testament scriptures pick up this theme of all things belonging to Christ and being made for service to him in Colossians:

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first born  of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:15-17)

Praise the Lord for all good things!

Author

  • Robert (Bob) Bruinsma is a retired Professor of Education (The King’s University) living in Edmonton. He has interests in language and literature and loves birds and the outdoors. To help pass the time on long winter nights, he makes wine and beer (and drinks it in moderation) with his wife of 46 years (Louisa). Bob is a member of Fellowship CRC where he tells stories for children and happily participates in weekly communion. He and Louisa have three grown children and three little grandsons.

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