So what’s changed?
The world over, commentators are predicting that once COVID-19 has done its worst, life will never be the same again. It’s hard to disagree. This has been a devastating and disorienting time. For us ALL. COVID-19 does not discriminate; that’s probably the only nice thing we can say about it. It really is knitting us ALL together.
Whenever astronauts go into orbit for the first time, they experience the so-called ‘overview effect’. Seeing the whole of planet Earth at a glance transforms them: life’s fragility on this ‘pale blue dot’ is obvious; national boundaries are irrelevant. I wonder if something similar is happening as a result of COVID-19. We are ALL in the same boat.
But still, I keep asking. What’s changed? This is where the Bible’s ‘overview effect’ is so crucial. Look at some of the things it says about ‘ALL people’:
(a) ‘’ALL people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field’ (1 Pet 1:24). This is the COVID-19 world – we are vulnerable and fragile. As we have always been. If this doesn’t humble an arrogant, self-sufficient world, I don’t know what will.
(b) ‘[The Lord] gives showers of rain to ALL people, and plants of the field to everyone’ (Zech 10.1). Theologians speak of God’s generosity to the whole world as ‘common’ grace. And he’s been doing this since Eden.
(c) We should not be idle. He involves his people in being agents of that grace. ‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to ALL people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers’ (Gal 6.10).
(d) When you start digging around for what is common to all people in the Bible, we find the majority of texts refer to humanity’s potential relationship to God. This is his ‘special’ grace, expressed in the covenant with Abraham – but also in the prophets, like Isaiah: ‘On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for ALL peoples, a banquet of aged wine’ (Is 25.6).
(e) The implications of all this are infinite. But, at the very least, it means we have a job to do: ‘Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among ALL peoples’ (1 Ch 16.24).
But above all, the Bible’s ‘overview effect’ takes us to God’s universal plan: the greatest universal, Jesus himself. This must be one of the Bible’s most thrilling passages of all. This is, after all, referring to the man who got his feet muddy on the banks of the Jordan River:
‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over ALL creation. For in him ALL things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; ALL things have been created through him and for him. He is before ALL things, and in him ALL things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have ALL his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself ALL things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross’ (Col 1:15-20).
So, there is nothing—I repeat, nothing—that is out of his hands or beyond him. NOTHING. He is Lord of all, Lord of Lords.
So I ask again. What’s changed? Well. In the grand scheme of things?
What Angels Long to Read: Reading and Preaching the New Testament by Mark Meynell helps us to understand these books in God's word that are crucial for spiritual growth and nourishment. Whilst not viewed as being as intimidating as the Old Testament, the frequency that preachers turn to the New Testament means it is even more essential that we approach passages from the New Testament appropriately.