Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Not My Own

“Why do I need to own any of those tools when I can just borrow them?” This was my question repeatedly to my wife when she suggested that I buy a certain specialized tool for a job needing to be done around the house.

We rented our first couple of houses. And so owning tools and fixing things was outside of my purview. We fixed things as needed; but I was able to comfortably limit my ownership responsibility to minor tools for minor fixes. So what a surprise it was to me when we came to purchase our own home. I was all thumbs and needed lots of coaching. It was convenient that the coaches also came with the right tools for the job. Soon every Christmas or at random times my wife would purchase an expensive tool and I would generally be dismissive.

I’m not sure when I turned the corner. Suddenly it seemed prudent to own my own tools, and to take good care of them. We made investments in some costly tools, and these tools helped us succeed in doing jobs that before seemed time-consuming and filled with delays. We purchased a pneumatic nail gun after trying to lay a hardwood floor with a borrowed tool and making a mess of the end pieces. We purchased a pressure washer which cleaned our weather-worn deck and helped us to sell our home. I would never have imagined that owning such expensive tools would actually be a benefit, but also a responsibility.

I can tell more tales about my “conversion” to a proud tool owner. But the point of the story is not about how I learn to own tools, but how I understood the difference between ownership and borrowing. When previously I had borrowed tools, they were not my tools and so I was obligated by the owner to take of them. I could be careless, but then I would not represent the tool’s owner. I might not ever get another opportunity to borrow a tool; since I had rejected the owner’s claim to receive back the tool in its right working order.

I reflect on this in light of Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 (NLT): “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” In context the verse refers to sexual purity. But the message about whose I am has challenged me very deeply. Don’t ask me why a verse that I have read many times now upbraids my conscience. I suddenly recognize that my behavior is not up to my own whims, but it is subject to my Owner. I am truly not my own. I have started thinking about many actions in which previously I made my own decisions as to how to proceed. Suddenly I am more conscious to check with my Owner as to my actions, and this causes me to do a heart check as well.

This also makes the Communion portion of the Sunday service of greater significance. In 1 Corinthians 11:24 (in the NRSV and ESV) it says, “…and when He had given thanks, He broke it (the bread), and said, ‘This is my body which (that) is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” The interesting phrase is, “which is for you.” Jesus says that the bread of communion is His body, and in an exchange of title His body is now on behalf of me. On behalf of all of us.

We do not truly belong to ourselves. We have no right to ask Christ to take our place on the cross, and then choose to act as if we are free agents. The significance of the bread is redemption – He replaces us; He redeems our lives with His. The significance of the blood is legality – a new covenant to which God commits to us that we are now His children, grafted into His family; and mercy is our birthright. But none of this works unless He receives complete ownership control.

Seems like a small price to pay, to just give up my life to Him completely. The hard part is acting out the change of title. I must stop borrowing back my life to act as I choose. I truly am not my own. Lord, may your ownership control be evident in every step I take. May I be an excellent tool in the hand of the Master.

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Joseph J. Bucci

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