This is a simple statement, we belong to God, but it has so many implications, promises, and commitments on our part. Think about what it means to belong to someone. Typically we speak of this when we talk of a bride and groom and how they belong to each other. It’s probably no wonder then that this is the type of image we are given of Jesus Christ, for the Church is His bride and He is the Bridegroom. But it goes farther than that. God has an ownership claim on everything He has made:
The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the rivers.
– Psalm 24:1-2, NASB
Slavery has a nasty taste in our mouths and well it should when we use it to mean one man owns another. No man is better than any other man, a truth we are reminded of in Romans 3:23. We are all sinners before God and thus fall short of His glory and His perfection. However, throughout the New Testament Paul constantly uses the Greek work doulos meaning bondslave or just simply, slave, when referring to his relationship with the living God. While it is not proper for one man to own another, it is right that we belong to the God who created us, the God who is holiness and perfection and righteousness. Many of the things we say isn’t right for us are right for God because He is perfect. That is why we can speak of Him being a jealous God and we can say there is no higher thing to do than to glorify God. If we sought to be jealous or to be glorified, those would be horrible sins for us, because only God, who is perfect, deserves glory and with that our complete love and adoration. So it is with being a slave to Jesus Christ. While being a slave to another man on this earth is abominable, being a slave to the Lord should be something we delight in, a relationship of absolute surrender to the One and Only, who gave His life for ours. Our God is a loving God and even in this type of relationship He still seeks to love and care for us.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
– Psalm 100:3, NASB
We like to talk about self-made men and women or pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. But such sayings are complete farces and lies. We are not self-made. We haven’t done it alone. The Lord our God has made us and deserves our allegiance and our devotion as the Sovereign Lord. This verse reminds us that we are His for we did not make ourselves. We could not exist if it were not for Him. But such a state is not without its benefits. For we are His people. Just as a bride belongs to her bridegroom and is loved and adored by her husband, so, too, are we loved and adored by God Almighty. He tends to us and cares for us in a way we could never towards each other or even for ourselves. That is why this verse concludes that we are the sheep of His pasture. The sheep are dependent on the shepherd for everything. The shepherd provides direction and safety and care. This is the way our Heavenly Father is towards us. He protects us from the evil one. He has rescued us from the mire of sin that we have all wandered into. He ensures that we have our needs met like a sheep needs grazing ground and water. That is the reward of understanding and submitting ourselves to a proper relationship with Him, one where He is Master and we are His slaves.
In the Church we need to look at our relationship with God honestly and without any excuse. Is He our Master? Or are we trying to master Him? Does He receive our devotion, adoration, and service first? Or are there other people or other things that get priority over Him? Do we seek to bring Him glory or do we hope that He brings glory our way? If we truthfully answer these questions, we will all find that there is always some part of us that isn’t wholly turned over to Him. We are not as completely surrendered as we should be. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been with Christ 1 minute or 1,000 years. There is always something in our life where we have refused to bend our knee and acknowledge God as Master over. As we begin this week, let us look for those areas of our life and surrender them now to the Son of Man who sacrificed Himself for us. By doing so we will be able to live more fully for Him this week and we will better be able to bring Him the glory He so richly deserves.