Friday, December 13, 2013

Jesus: Lord

Do you remember this little ditty from the sixties?

You don't own me
I'm not just one of your many toys
You don't own me
Don't say I can't go with other boys
And don't tell me what to do
Don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don't put me on display 'cause
You don't own me

In our society, we don't like the idea of being owned.  Maybe it's reminds us of the horrors of slavery or the days when women were treated as commodities rather than people.  Maybe it's just because we like to be independent.  Even our slang words reveal that the thought that we belong to anybody but ourselves is uncomfortable.  If someone loses a game, we say, "You got owned." 

It's time to think differently about what it means to be owned.  After all, every time we call Jesus or the Father "Lord" we are saying that we belong to him.  That's what Lord means. He owns us, but the image we should have is not that of a misogynistic husband or a cruel slave trader.  Instead, we should view Jesus as a kind older brother, teaching us to be children of a loving heavenly Father.

Here in the western hemisphere, it is hard for us to think about a brother also being a master.  After all, I don't know of many kids who are expected to respect and obey their older brother.  The most the eldest boy will usually do is warn his younger sibling that she's about to get it!  But in other cultures, particularly eastern ones, being the older brother is a big responsibility, one that requires respect from the younger siblings.  In China (where the one child rule isn't as universal as we might think), older brothers often send home half of their paycheck from their first job to pay for a younger sibling's schooling. This is the rule, not the exception.  In more extreme cases, an older sibling might even drop out of school and begin working to pay for a younger sibling's education. In return, the younger brother or sister is expected to follow and obey big brother.  

This is the image of mastery and ownership that we see in the New Testament.  As Christians, we belong to Jesus, and because of that, we are able to be heirs with him, adopted children of God.  

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him... For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:9,14-17 See Galatians 3:29-4:7 for a similar examination of Jesus as Lord and brother)

What a far cry this image is from the hated slave owner or overbearing father/boyfriend/husband  Paul even points out specifically that we don't have a spirit of slavery.  When we call Jesus "Lord" and allow him to lead us, we can cry out to the Father with the same level of intimacy that Jesus himself used in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:36).  We become children of God, with our older brother leading the way in all kindness.

Notice, though, that we do have some responsibility.  Not only do we need to follow where He leads, Paul also says we need to suffer with Him.  That sounds terribly ominous, like we are supposed to immediately go find a place where Christians are persecuted and start preaching on street corners so we can experience suffering. Although Paul went through that kind of pain, I don't think that's exactly what he means. In Galatians, Paul repeats that Christ owns us and tells us what that means.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25).

Jesus suffered crucifixion.  We can suffer with him by crucifying the flesh.  In context, that means to stop doing the deeds of the flesh and begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Does that sound like suffering?  If you answered no, then you've never gone through the painful process of rooting out deep seated sin.  It hurts.  It is not a pleasant process, but we have joy knowing that our big brother went through worse for us, and that His Spirit is inside us, leading us and teaching us to be children of the Father.

Today, I want to call Jesus my Lord.  I want to acknowledge that he owns me.  He bought me, not to be a slave, but to join Him as a child of God.  He has led the way in suffering, and in glory, and I want to follow him in both.  The best part is, I know that my Lord Jesus is right there with me the whole way.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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