Today after 16 years, the home I live in is no longer my own. We sold it, it settles today, and tomorrow we start paying rent on it. After 16 years. It seems strange. We have loved living here, have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into renovating it (to say nothing of a lot of money), and this is the only house our children have known.
It also feels a little unnerving. It’s no longer my own home. Which means, even though I have been careful with it almost to a fault, from here on in I have to be extra careful. Someone else owns it. Damage to this house is no longer damage to my house, and something I could just ignore (not that he would – OCD Ed), but it is something I need to address. Someone else is taking this house very seriously indeed, so as I pay rent for it on a fortnightly basis for the next year or so, I have to treat it with the respect it deserves, as someone else’s house. It is not my own home any longer. Someone bought it at the price we were asking. Therefore I must now look after it as if it were not my own – cos it’s not!
Which reminds me of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God with your bodies.
Paul, of course, says all of this in the context of the Corinthian church and their flippant attitude to what they do with sex. Which at least says to us today that the the more things change the more they stay the same.
Of course we live in a culture where the self is the prime unit through which we view everything. If anything does belong to us, it’s our bodies, isn’t it? The government, the legal system, the whatever can take what they can, but this body of mine? It’s mine. How I feel about it, what I do with it, where I put it, and who I put it with, all my decisions to make, as long as I take care that it’s consensual and not hurting anyone.
Except not for the Christian. What was once yours – or so you thought – no longer is. Someone – Christ – bought you, and the price was much higher than what I got for my house. And the “therefore” is there for a reason: You don’t get to decide for yourself what to do with the house.
Two things bug me about my house. It doesn’t have awnings on the windows on one side. I meant to put them up over the past 16 years. Never got around to it. Might give it a go this spring. Oh, wait, that’s right, I can’t – I no longer own it. Someone bought it at a price.
And that front grass – I have been meaning to rip it out to save time and money and water. Get some recycled bricks, do some garden beds. Might do it in six months. Oh, wait, that’s right, I can’t – I no longer own it. Someone bought it at a price. I have no right to do that to what is their house.
But it still feels like my house. Had it for 16 years remember! I made it what it is. Surely I have the right to chop and change and do with it what I like. I have to admit I have struggled in my mind to make that transition. We ensured that we signed a proper agreement, with all of the legal requirements through a letting agency because having once owned it, and now no longer owning it can leave some grey areas. Can’t I just do this or that? Can’t I just ignore the new owners and make it how it all should be?
Nope. Not according to the paperwork I can’t. Not according to the rental agreement I signed on Friday. It’s not my own. It was bought at a price. Therefore I have to look after it the way the owner wants it looked after. I have to present it on the last day of the rental agreement intact as the owner wants it, or I won’t get my bond back.
And if you think that’s hard to get into your mind after owning something for so long such as a house, how hard do you think it is to get into your mind when you come to Christ? It takes a while. Too long at times, and often we slip back into old habits.
I hope you get the parable. It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? But not so obvious that the church doesn’t need to hear it again. We are not our own. That is threatening to slip off the radar in the Christian community. In fact it’s hardly even on the radar in most of the conversations I am listening to. I worry that this fact is somehow becoming an oddity even with the Christian framework. The assumption is as the world assumes – that we are our own, and what we do with what is our own is up to us.
Well, that much is true. What you do own you can do with what you like. But since you don’t own any of you, then you can’t. You can only do what the new owner wishes you to do with all of you – and that is glorify Him with your bodies: Your eyes, your hands, your genitals, your words, your thoughts, your desires. Just like my house, you are owned by someone else, all the way down to the foundations – the bits you can’t see,