Is belonging to God hard or easy? Is belonging to yourself hard or easy?
We struggle to love ourselves, but still think we know what’s best for us.
Can you really “belong to yourself” or will you simply belong to the strongest and most
appealing influences in your life? For example/s, particular brands that produce the clothing
products, accessories and equipment for the activities that you’ve been groomed to enjoy and
or social movements that encourage you to construct your identity and sense of righteousness
around their cause. Each of these tries to tell you that “you belong,” but are they really offering
you a home, a household, a community? Or, are they telling you “we own you” and “you are
despicable unless you give your allegiance to our cause”?
Scripture affirms that human dignity and value is innate, and despite our sins and failures, God
says, “I have bought you with a price” (I Corinthians 6:20).
We sometimes think other people are more lovable than we feel. We believe that God loves
other people unconditionally (because we find them lovable?), but we think that God probably
has a hard time loving us. Do we think we are more loving than God?
Jesus gave himself to ransom us from the principalities and powers (brands, political factions
and false identities) (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, I Timothy 2:6).
Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and you will find rest for your souls.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If Jesus’
yoke is a cross, how is that easy? It’s easy because we were made by God and for God. We belong
to God and God empowers us to carry it in our weakness when we stay in dependence on God.
When we fight to throw down the yoke of our cross, when we fight for independence from our
source of being, we become subject to other masters. Their yokes glitter and sparkle, they look
new and light and they promise us everything, but when the glitter flakes off and the new-smell fades,
we notice that we’re bent double under the crushing weight of our insatiable desire for
something more meaningful while our new masters scream “Perform! Give us 110%!”
In Christ, a saint is not someone who is perfect. A saint is someone who is set-apart for a
purpose. This is the true meaning of “sanctification.” You are set apart for a purpose.
Therefore, don’t try to serve 2 masters: Many people follow a pretty basic career-path pursuing
wealth or financial security and then spend their money on self-indulgent adventures, when a
whole life of adventure was available.
So, don’t be passive. If you hear the voice of God, calling you, certainly follow that call. If not,
choose any Godly path that’s going to give you life and don’t try to talk yourself out of it. Many
things can be enjoyed. Many things are pleasurable. Many things can make you happy for a
minute. The things that are “life-giving” are things that will make you better and more capable
of experiencing joy in all circumstances next month, next year, next decade. If you are drawn
to something hard because it carries a deep sense of adventure, excitement and purpose, go
for it! If you’re drawn to quiet and serenity, own that! (I Thessalonians 4:9-12) Regardless,
there is no true path forward that takes a detour around the hard work of maturity.
“Pick up your cross daily and follow me.” Every path of following Jesus (maybe every human
path) comes with a cross (physical/emotional health issues, family drama, financial difficulties,
boredom, loneliness, toxic co-workers, etc.).
Faced with that scary prospect, we can draw courage from the first question of the Heidelberg
Catechism, which asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” The (short) Answer is:
“That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior
In You Are Not Your Own, Alan Noble writes, “If you are not your own and belong to Christ,
then your personhood is a real creation, objectively sustained by God.” And as a creation of
God, you have no obligation to create yourself. Your identity is based on God’s perfect will,
not your own subjective, uncertain will. All your efforts to craft a perfect, marketable image add
nothing to your person-hood. The reason the opinions of others don’t define you isn’t because
your opinion is the only one that counts, but because you are not reducible to any human
efforts of definition. The only being who can fully know you and understand you without
reducing you to a stereotype or an idol is God. This does not mean that you don’t have a “true
self.” You do. But it is just not one that you are burdened with creating.
I am not my own.
I belong to Jesus.
I don’t have to figure it all out.