Sitting outside a Cameron Village boutique the other day, I noticed a sign hanging in the window: “I like my money right where I can see it, hanging in my closet.” (emphasis mine.)
My. Mine. Ownership.
We like to own designer clothes, luxury cars, estate homes, good jewelry, investment properties. What we own speaks of our status, our station, our authority.
When you own it, it is yours to command. With ownership, of course, comes responsibility. The things we own have to be maintained and protected. The greater their value, the greater our responsibility. You might say the things we own have a claim on us.
It may come as a shock, but we Christians are owned by God. We are bought with a price. We are not our own. That equates to being a slave, not a very appealing prospect to the Western mind with its engrained sense of autonomy.
During an introduction to the book of Titus, Colonial Baptist Church senior pastor Stephen Davey explained that the word in Titus 1:1 translated “servant or bondservant” in most Bible versions is the Greek word “doulos,” which literally means “slave.” The translation is softened so as not to offend Western sensibilities and seem to endorse the brutality of slavery.
Nevertheless, the word is slave. Slaves have masters. They are not free agents, able to do as they please. They go where they are sent, do what they are told. Their choices are limited.
This is our situation as Christians. We have the illusion of autonomy. We are free from the tyranny of sin, but not free to do anything we like. We are free to do God’s will.
I may not like this, but I can’t really argue with the logic of it. Scripture clearly teaches that our citizenship is in heaven, that heaven is a kingdom and that God sits as King eternal. Even in the natural realm a king rules over his subjects with the right to ask of them what he will.
What hit me was the flip side, that a king bears responsibility for his subjects! For whatever reason, it came as a revelation that God assumes complete responsibility for my care and protection because I am, to quote the name of a gospel choir, “God’s Property.”
I suddenly realized that much of what I struggle to manage and resolve simply isn’t my responsibility. Sure, I am called to do whatever God has assigned me to do, but it is His responsibility to handle any problems that arise while I am on His errands.
What a relief!
When I am staying in a hotel and the hot water goes out or the television set won’t work, I don’t spend one minute worrying about how to fix it. I bring it to the attention of the “owners” via their designated representatives and go about my business expecting them to make it right. It is their responsibility.
It just makes sense that if God calls me to speak, He’s responsible for whether people listen. If He tells me to go, the reception I receive also rests with him. I am to “obey God and leave all the consequences to Him,” as Charles Stanley is fond of saying.
Who doesn’t enjoy Sinatra’s rendition of “My Way” or the idea of being their “own man or woman”? But the truth is, acknowledging God’s rightful role as my owner takes nothing away from me. It’s actually a liberating concept. I don’t have to make anything happen. I am simply responsible for my small part. The battle is not mine, but God’s (2 Ch 20:15).
I am not one to make New Year resolutions, but I’m going to practice bringing to God those things that fall within His purview as owner. I no longer want to shoulder those responsibilities myself. It is exhausting and unnecessary. Turning them over to Him may be slavery, but it sounds like freedom to me.
My New Year is looking happier already! How about yours?