- Kyle Friesen
Ask a group of people, 'who are you?' And you will undoubtedly get a plurality of answers. These may range from relationships to politics, from job positions to moral convictions, and the list would continue. Ask God, 'who are we?' And you will have uniformity. “Mine!” is the emphatic response. This is the shout of God over all of His works, for there isn't a molecule in all the Earth that God does not lay total claim to. Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." For us to grow in understanding who we are, we must both begin and return again and again to the reality of whom we belong to. From this, we will best know ourselves.
To Be Human Is To Be Owned
To be owned seems to be a cold and repressive statement that gives little comfort, but that’s only true if the one we belong to is evil. The Bible teaches us that we are owned or created and it is for our comfort, not sorrow. The psalmist in the 139th chapter of Psalms upon recalling the depths of Gods knowledge, justice, and goodness proclaims, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." For the writer of this Psalm, his response to the question of, ‘who am I?’ was the reality that he was the work of God, created, dependent, the extension of another, and acted upon.
If God is maker and creator, He automatically has something that no other being in all creation has: creator rights. God as creator gives Him rights over all things that He has made, including people. The one major problem for us here is that by nature we hate being owned by God. Who cares about His rights, what about mine? This is the reality of life, and the roadblock for many to find freedom in God. To be owned, in our opinion and attitude, is bondage, for we define freedom as personal control. For example: to control an addiction is to be free from it. Freedom at our place of work is found in our boss doing what's best for us. A good relationship is one that operates along our desires. The list goes on. Often the response to a simple, "How is your day doing?" is answered in line with this agenda. Is everything going according to my plan? Check. "My day is good," is our response. This posture of the heart, more than any action, is at the root of our sin and all the problems that stem from it. The problem isn’t God’s ownership, it is our desire to be Him, and by not submitting to God, we show that we hate Him and His kingdom. By God’s rich grace, this is what Jesus was sent to restore.
Romans 1:21 captures this picture of humanity outside of redemption in these words, “for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The writer of Romans goes on to say that this darkening which came from keeping God out of our minds led us to the place where we exchanged creator God for the created; willingly trading the kingship of our maker for bondage to lesser things, and ultimately self. If bondage to self and dishonoring the creator is not a terrifying reality for you, then the sweet grace of God towards you in Jesus will be no big deal, it will be foolishness. The Bible talks about our redemption as a kingdom, not where we are saved to be the king but where we are saved to the king. This place in the kingdom is not one that we can simply find ourselves, but one that we are bought into. Christ pays for it by coming in the likeness of man, facing the problems of the world, living a life of perfection to God in obedience to him, and then laying down His life as a sacrifice for sinful men who prefer God out of sight. Not only does He die as a substitute, but He then rises from that death in victory over it. He graciously offers His life for us. He comes to give us His perfection for our damnation, His clothes of righteousness in exchange for our clothes of sin. Through Christ, we have access into the kingdom, peace with God and assurance that all we need will be freely given us.
In this act of unspeakable grace, God comes to save us that we might worship Him. Jesus came that we might see Him, love Him, find our joy in Him, and obey Him. True freedom is what we were created to live in, and it is found in joyful surrender to a perfect God. This life of worship toward God, I think, is what was in sight of the psalmist as he continued on in Psalm 139. The following verse goes to say this beautifully, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” God as creator and life giver is the basis of our understanding of ourselves, and His ownership of us is the center of the gospel. For by this gospel, we see that God as king not only brings Him glory but gives us our deepest joy. God alone is a good king for He never changes, ceases to exist, or does evil (Exodus 3:14). To be under Him is where freedom is found. For if freedom is found in Him alone and if He never changes, our freedom is secured forever, and we are free indeed.