Who owns you?
St. Paul answers this question when he writes, “You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”
What does Paul mean when he says, “We are not our own?” He is telling us that Christ, through his suffering, death, and resurrection, has redeemed us from sin, death, and the devil. Therefore, we are not our own. In Christ, God, who created us, has redeemed us when we sinned and we belong to him.
What does this mean in everyday life?
No one tells us better than Martin Luther in his explanation to the second article of the Apostles Creed. Luther writes, “He has redeemed me . . . that I might be His own, live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”
Jesus demonstrates what God’s ownership of him meant by his commitment to do His Father’s will. Jesus had made Capernaum His headquarters after being chased out of Nazareth. The disciples would have been willing to settle down in Capernaum. It was a cozy place, and the people kept coming to hear Jesus preach. Jesus had become so popular in their midst skipping away early one morning to have time alone with his Father was necessary for him. When the disciples found Jesus and told him the people wanted him, he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Our Lord had no idea how he would be received in the next town. However, because He was not his own, but belonged to His Father, it was necessary to do his Father’s will. Jesus received direction from his Father. His life was not his own.
As disciples of Jesus, our lives are not our own. God has given us a mission to perform. This is a difficult message for us to apply to our lives. Are we not our own? Obviously, the Bible makes it clear our basic mission is to lead people to Christ by telling them the way of salvation. However, it also means showing people how much God loves them through deeds of kindness and love. Let me illustrate.
We have recently been introduced to a program of helping to feed hungry children around the world. When I walked into a room at our church to see how this works, I witnessed an assembly line of workers filling small bags of food ingredients, such as rice and proteins. After the bags had passed through several hands, they were sealed and packaged for shipment to a country where people are dying from starvation. I was told one bag of food would feed six people one meal.
The director of the program told me this food would be sent to Christian missions around the world. Before the workers would dispense any food, they would tell the recipients Christ sent them this gift because he loves them and wants them as a part of His Kingdom.
This is our congregation’s opportunity to help feed a few of the world’s starving people. We know the hungry are dying. We know how they can be fed. We have Jesus’ words that say, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat . . . Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:35,40).
Who owns us? If Jesus owns us, we must do his will and help feed these people. It’s as simple as that. We make Christianity so complicated, we often miss the point. Our text tells us Jesus could have stayed in Capernaum. It would have been so comfortable, but God told him to move on, and he was obedient.
The text tells us Jesus left the crowd to be in a solitary place. What do you suppose He was doing there? He was listening to his Father and getting orders for the days ahead. Having a quiet time with God is necessary for us. Without it, we run the danger of exhausting our energies and losing God’s perspective for our lives. If Jesus was going to feed others spiritually, he had to be fed himself.
This leads me to a very disappointing statement I hear often. A church worker speaking before a congregation said, “We don’t go to church to get something. We go to give something.” This is not true. We go to church to receive spiritual food to strengthen us so we can go forth to give something. If we are not spiritually strong – and we will not be unless we are fed on God’s Word – we will have little or nothing to offer others except our own experiences, which are of little value.
After Jesus had been fed in that solitary place with His Father, He rose from his knees and went to work. In Jesus’ quiet time God spoke clearly, “You must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also; that is why you were sent.” These were our Lord’s divine marching orders.
It is said that in the midst of the Reformation, Luther spent hours in prayer. Prayer prepared him for the task God had given the reformer to do. God told Luther through His Word in Romans 1:17 what his mission was: Luther was not his own. He belonged to God. Obediently, he went on his way, and God directed, strengthened, and made him a blessing as he restored the message that people are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
This is what happens when we are convinced our lives are not our own.
We are bought with a price.