The Psalmist declared, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24:1 NRSV
Really? Well, of course the Lord created heaven and earth and all living things. I know that. Is that what the Psalmist meant? Maybe, but maybe more is meant.
Something about the Psalmist’s words troubles me. If the Psalmist speaks inspired truth, it follows that I have something in common with “all who live” in the world. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means I am kin to “all who live” in the world. All! That includes you and lots of other people even harder to take than you.
I mean no offense, but let’s be real. There are some folks whom I don’t care to think of as distant cousins four times removed much less as brothers and sisters about whom I should care and toward whom I should act in love. What kind of God is this who desires to claim us all and bids us do the same?
Oh, let’s shift gears to something more comfortable — to “those” people who do not like God, or to those who so live as to indicate that they do not like God. What about “those people” who just turn away from God? Do they belong to God?
An experience I had with my earthly father may shed some light on that last question. There was a period in my adult life when my father so disappointed me that I really longed to be separate from him—not to belong to him. Wanting to separate from one’s father, to be separate from him, is not possible. In spite of how I felt, I could not deny from whence I came. By the way, Dad and I got past that horrible period, but it was not without the pain and struggle of hard work.
There are people, who like me are created in the image of God, who want to separate from the Creator — not to belong to God. Some just can’t believe the God-story as they’ve heard it. Many others have been disappointed by God, or at least by the God they know. They would like to write God off. They want to do so, but the truth remains the same: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
The great truth of the Bible is that God loves the world, which includes all those who live in it. Surely God loves us in part because we have our being in God. The good news is that God loves us even when we don’t love God, ourselves, or others.
Christians count on such love. Christians who are serious about their faith understand that, having been so loved, they have no choice but to love the world and “all who live” in the world. In the sphere of God’s love, there are no distant cousins four times removed. There are just brothers and sisters.