We have been meditating on Philippians 1:1, one word at a time. When the Apostle Paul identifies himself and Timothy as slaves of Christ, what are the implications? We can frame the answer in two words, both beginning with the letter “O”—ownership and obedience. Today I will focus on ownership.
Ownership is a tough word. Paul captures its primary implication in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “… You are not your own. You are bought with a price.”
Those of us living in the land of the free tend to equate being one’s own with the essence of personhood. Therefore, losing our autonomy is tantamount to losing our humanity.
This perspective embodies an element of truth. We become a slave of Christ at salvation. Saving faith includes relinquishing our autonomy, which Scripture associates with death. Baptism depicts this death by our submersion under the waters. This graphically symbolizes death since left submerged we would die.
However, salvation does not leave us there. Rather, it brings us into a new existence in which we live for Christ. Though our American love of independence may invoke the parallel between loss of autonomy and loss of humanity, Scripture assures us that we achieve humanity to the fullest when we submit our lives to Christ.
We find examples of submission and becoming fully alive at the human level. Most married people would attest that life to its fullest began for them when they relinquished autonomy to take on the obligations of marriage. Likewise, the man born to be a soldier becomes fully alive when he submits himself to the authority of the Army.
We were designed to be slaves of Christ. Only when we submit to His ownership do we become the persons we were meant to be.