Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he 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.
Henry Ford is reported to have said, “History is one damn thing after another.” For the secularist, Ebola, Isis, beheadings, pandemics, and plunging stock markets can be nothing more than absurd, purposeless, meaningless sequences of events. Centuries ago Macbeth concluded that all of life adds up to “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Tragically, when God is left out of life’s equation we cannot help but come to the same despairing conclusion. Sir George Norman Clark, in his inaugural lecture as Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, concluded: “There is no secret and no plan in history to be discovered. I do not believe that any future consummation could make sense of all the irrationalities of preceding ages. If it could not explain them, still less could it justify them.”
Sometimes life events and news headlines might lead even Christians to come to Henry Ford’s cynical, hopeless conclusion. After all, we are immersed in a secular humanist culture that has lost any faith in God and His plan for the world. That is why I frequently get my bearings by turning to Ephesians 1 in my Bible: here God reveals His breathtaking plan for the ages. Here I am reminded that God has a plan, and He is working His plan to put right all things.
In today’s Scripture text we see that God’s plan goes back
“before the foundation of the world”. Before God created the world he purposed to lavish us with His grace and to adopt us into His family. We also see that God’s plan is certain because it is Jesus Christ who will carry forth and accomplish God’s plan for the world. We learn that “in the fullness of time” God will “gather up all things” in Christ.
The Greek word translated as “gather up”, (anakephalaiomai), literally means “to bring under a head.” It was used to describe adding up a column of numbers and placing the sum total under the head of the column. Thus, God’s eternal purpose is, “in the fullness of time”, to ‘add up’ all things under the headship of Jesus Christ.
Right now many things we see in our world do not ‘add up’. They don’t make any sense to us. What we see is fragmentation and frustration. But when time has run its course, all things will ‘add up’ in Christ. Paradise lost in Adam will be Paradise regained in Him. Henry Ford was wrong!
Part of what it means to be a Christian is to believe that in God’s time He will bring all things into one harmonious whole in Christ. It will all ‘add up’, when “every knee shall bow, in heaven and earth and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). It will all be summed up in Him!
All of this reminds me of a wonderful line from the recent movie, “The Best Marigold Hotel”, starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The movie reminds us that we all have our ideas of how life should play out, but usually doesn’t. The characters of the movie learn that in India there is a saying: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Today’s Scripture text leads me to tweak that a bit, and say:
“Everything will be too wonderful for words in the end. If everything is not too wonderful for words, it’s not the end.” Until then we keep praying and helping where we can!
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and Peace,
photo by Daniela Hartmann