Who Owns You?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 9, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

It is a deep illusion in us as human beings that we own our own destiny and that we are autonomous beings. While God has certainly given us the capacity to be independent at times, we like to ignore the truth that we are interdependent beings – which means we rely on and are affected by others. This is a basic truth of our existence, that we NEED other people. It is the core of the expression, “no man is an island.” Most of us come to terms with this truth as we grow into our 30’s - it is a mark of maturity to realize that our existence affects others as much as we are affected by others.

Alongside of this truth is another one. The more access or permission we give to other people in our life, the more influence they have over us. The more heavily we allow their opinions to impact our thoughts, the more potential they have to control or manipulate our direction/choices. In healthy relationships, we learn to evaluate the thoughts and opinions of those we trust, and we get perspective through study, reflection, and other people or resources to help us decide how much influence that person should have in our life. When we are blind to that influence, when we ignore the fact that permission = access/control, and when we are not selective about who gets access to us, we can wind up in some pretty dangerous and destructive relationships. The same is true when it comes to our moral decisions – sinful influences vs. righteous ones.

Read Romans 6:15-23. If we boil Paul’s explanation down here, it sounds very similar to the chorus of Bob Dylan’s song, “Gotta Serve Somebody”:
But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

Before we knew anything about God, we gave ourselves to whatever seemed right, seemed like it might feel good, or seemed like it might medicate some pain or situation we were dealing with. We gave access to all kinds of things, and in doing so we gave them control over our lives. It may have been people, physical sensations, emotional stimulation, philosophies, technology, etc – we gave it access to ourselves for what we thought we might gain from it. And we were sorely disappointed at the results, if not in the short-term certainly in the long-term, as we realized those people or things or ways of thinking could not satisfy what we needed.

Paul underscores here our choice to live in sin or grace, for ourselves or for God. He reminds us that this is a life and death choice, because there is only one person who desires to give us life – and that is God. Anything else we choose to give access to will take life from us and empty us, which leads us to two dilemmas.

The first is making sure we settle who we are living for. Are we living for God? Ourselves? Someone else? Paul asks us to reflect on what results we are going to see, from giving our life over to whatever we have chosen to serve. We must settle who has FIRST access to us, who OWNS us when it comes to our purpose and direction in life. If we try to own ourselves, we buy into the lie that we are autonomous, and we go blind to all the other things and people that we let steer the course of our life. In doing so, we let those things have our life for their own purposes, and we empty our life of the meaning and purpose God intended. If we give ourselves to God – HIS promise is that we will have life, and life to the fullest – even eternal life.

The second dilemma we face is that if God gives us His life, and then calls us to serve Him in serving the hurting and broken, aren’t we going to be giving access to those people and situations that empty us of life? I mean, if I am with Jesus, I can’t just wall myself up in a fortress of religious protection, because that would be about protecting myself and owning myself. The important part of the promise here is what Paul says in the final verse of this passage: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

If we are in Christ, and He fully has our life, our focus – if He is granted complete access to us – then He brings an inexhaustible presence of life in us that can be shared and taken into any circumstance without being diminished. And we can fearlessly engage in the lives of people and cultures that are distant from God, without fearing being corrupted, because HE owns US.

Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:
- Are you giving yourself fully to God? Or are there still places you dance around with giving access to sin, or self-indulgence, or philosophies that thrill for a moment and empty your soul of life?
- If you are doing your best to give your life to God, but are hiding in church building, religious language, or religious activities – are you really giving your life to HIM? He wants His people engaged in what He cares about, not hiding from the world in a bubble. If you do not have significant relationships with non-believers, can you really say that God has full access to your life and how you live it?
- What is the payoff you are after from this life? Are you settling for a lesser prize or reward that you can get in your own strength? Or will that payoff reflect that you lived in the fullness of God’s inexhaustible life-giving presence?

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