This summer I am leading our church through a biblical look at our core values. We are delving into who we are as individual Christians as well as our identity as a corporate body. The particular value that we looked at recently was the biblical principle of stewardship: “Everything we have belongs to the Lord. We are His stewards.” In examining many Scriptures on this topic, the most impactful came from Romans 14:8.
“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
It can be tempting to exclude ourselves – our bodies, our opinions, our lives, our personalities, that which comprises the very core of who we are – from the “everything” that belongs to the Lord. Yet, the Holy Spirit inspired words of Paul are very clear here: we belong to the Lord. Whether you live or you die, you belong to the Lord.
Individualism has been a cherished value in our culture, and, in fact, often appears to the highest virtue in many ways. The attitude of “this is MY body”, “this is how I feel”, “this is what I think”, “this is what I see and understand to be truth”, and so on. It is painfully evident in many national conversations: abortion, sexual identity, gender discussions, race relations, etc. However, it is also on display in most every area of our life: our attitude, our money, our relationships, our bodies, and our possessions.
As a Christian we are not the Captain of this ship we call our life but rather, as 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us, we were bought at a price. We are called to actively and consistently DENY ourselves (talk about counter-culture!), take up the cross, and follow our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24). We are called to be transformed – that is changed from our own image – into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:1-2). What does this mean for us, Church?
The implications are far-reaching, indeed. Since we belong to the Lord, He owns us; we are His and He is our Master. Imagine the impact we would have on our community – and ultimately our country and the entire world – if every Christian began to live this way! If, as we began to read Scripture, we actually read these inspired words as mandates, as commands, from our Lord and Master and, in response, began to internalize them and live them out. The death-grip that individualism has on our culture would disappear as people began to “live for the Lord” rather than “live for themselves”, or “live for the moment”, or “live for the feeling”.
May I challenge you with what I have been challenged with this past week? Ask the Lord to begin to conform you to His image to the point where the reality of Romans 14:8 is undeniably evident in your heart, mind, and life. You belong to the Lord. Submit your opinions to Him. Submit your identity to Him. Submit your strengths and weaknesses to Him. Submit your will to Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to take your very life, and live it for Him. As we do this, may He begin to transform not only us, but our families, the people around us, our churches, our communities, our country, and the world. Live for the Lord, today and every day. You belong to Him.
I closed my sermon with a powerful prayer from John Wesley. I would encourage you to not only pray this prayer, or one of your own with the same heart and spirit, but also to ask the Lord to embed it deeply in your spirit. I do not believe we can honestly pray this way and not be changed.
“Lord, I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will. Let be employed by You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low by You. Let me have all things, let me have nothing, I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are mine and I am Yours. So be it. Amen”
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.