All Things to All People

All things to all peopleThe “all things” in which we desire to find God, which is the very theme of this blog, includes us—you and me. The words “all things” really means that God is not limited to any one thing in particular or any one person. A church does not contain God “more” than a field of corn. A priest is not more holy than a single mother. God is uncontained and unconfined.

Saint Paul says, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor 9:22b) He alludes to the need for us, as people of God who serve and love and minister to others, to be adaptable enough so that we may be able to compassionately companion others. This means that we can be present for the single mother as much as the widowed man. We can be God’s loving presence as much for a starving orphan as we are for a co-worker. God’s limits know no bounds, which means that God’s reach manifests itself in us in a multitude of ways.

The Jesuits are a great example of the desire to be all things to all people. They not only reach the well-educated in universities but the poor in developing countries. They are scientists and scholars but they also bathe the sick and companion the homeless.

Same Mission, Many Ways
Saint Paul expands on how we can be all things to all people:

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served. There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service. The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

The mission is the same: to serve God and serve our neighbour. But it is carried out in different ways and with different gifts. This way, that last verse can be fulfilled: “The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.”

Day to day living reveals how God uses us in different ways. One day we may find ourselves being an ear for our co-worker. Another day we discover the need to empathise with a teenager’s struggles of puberty. Yet another day we find ourselves sitting with the dying. Each circumstance is very different and requires us to adapt, but each circumstance shows the same thing: that God can be found in us, that “all things” simply means we let God be present through us for whatever person or situation presents itself.

Listen to an audio version of this post…


Music by Kevin MacLeod

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