Monday, January 26, 2009
I Belong to You
This Sunday before we left for church, James and I were talking about crime rates in the city I grew up in, Memphis, Tennessee, which ironically has consistently been one of the nation’s top crime-infested cities. My sister and I weren’t allowed to go to the Mall of Memphis (“affectionately” nicknamed the Mall of Murder for the near daily deaths in the parking garage). We couldn’t play in the front yard without our parents present, and we could never be alone.
I remember my mom’s ritual of getting in and out of the car. We would exit out the door of our home with the garage door down. After we were settled in the car, my mom would lock the doors before raising the garage door and backing out. Similarly, when we returned home, she wouldn’t unlock the car until the garage door was down. Just as I had done earlier, she would lock and set the alarm on her car, head inside, lock and deadbolt the door, and set the alarm on our house. (Our house alarm had a tap or break alert, so it would go off if glass broke or a door or window opened.)
We went through so much effort – but for what? To protect what? A couple of TV’s and furniture? Our clothes? Sure, I know a large part of it was to protect us, but we took all of these precautions when we weren’t home. These steps were imprinted in my brain to protect our possessions.
If someone asked me what the most precious thing in my life was, what would my answer be? Without hesitation, it’s my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Hands down. No questions asked. That thought led me to another question:
Do I go to as many great lengths to protect my walk with Christ as I do my “stuff?” And if I don’t, what are my true priorities?
It hurt me to think I’ve been more careful protecting our Wii than the royal position I have inherited as an adopted child of God. Instead of placing locks, barriers and alarms on the priceless gift of my salvation in Jesus Christ, I have spent more of my life trying to figure out exactly where the boundaries of sin were so I could go as far as I possibly could without crossing over to Satan’s side.
Would I ever be careless with my material possessions? Would I leave the doors to my car wide open in the Target parking lot with my iPod in the passenger seat? Would I go out of town for a week with my home’s garage door open and doors unlocked? Of course not.
Bottom line: My life should be spent trying to be as close to God and His holiness as possible. Think of balancing on a tightrope that is the boundary between God and Satan. You’ve got a good chance to fall either way.
I went to church feeling pretty down on myself. Here I am – in seminary, a pastor’s wife, pretty much a professional Christian – and I’m still consistently looking for the bare minimum. As if she could read my mind, Ashley Nelson shared a line she heard on a television show: “Feeling inadequate has a universal zip code.” She summed up my morning.
It’s true. Everywhere you turn, you can find a woman who doesn’t think she’s skinny enough, a man who doesn’t think he makes enough money, a college guy trying to figure out who he is without his high school football team, or a girl who just knows that if she makes one B, she’ll never get into graduate school.
But for us, it doesn’t end there.
Ashley went on to say, “But God loves us and works in us regardless of our perceived inadequacies." She sang a beautiful song called “I Belong” by Kathryn Scott based on Romans 8:35-39. (To listen: http://www.independentbands.com/cd/kathrynscott.html)
Not angels, nor demons, no power on earth or heaven.
Not distance, nor danger, no trouble now or ever.
Not hardship, nor hunger, no pain or depth of sorrow.
Not weakness, nor failure, no broken dream or promise.
Nothing can take me from your great love.
Forever this truth remains.
I belong, I belong to You.
I belong, I belong to You.
As she sang, God reminded me of two things:
First, Jesus commanded us to be perfect. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Instead of barely trying to get by in our Christian walk, we should “walk as Jesus did” if we claim to live in Him (1 John 2:6). We should put up barriers to protect us against temptation and sin. I belong to Him, and I should act like it.
Now, this is not the pop Christian belief. In fact, in today’s world, making the statement I did above will categorize me as a legalist or a fundamentalist. I’m saying that everything about Christians - our language, our behavior, our dress, our habits – should look different from the world. If there’s a chance that a movie or going to a certain place could possibly interfere with what God is doing in our lives, our guard should be up to protect what is most valuable.
Secondly, He reminded me that I’m not perfect. I will slip. I will find myself on that tightrope. But no matter what, I still belong to Him - because I have confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in my heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
Ask yourself these questions today:
Do you belong to Him?
Can others tell that you belong to Him?
Do you value that you belong to Him?