Every year as a church we go through the New City Catechism from ages two through our college age students. For the preschool kids they go through one catechism question a month. This month with my daughter we have been going through question one:
Q1. What is our only hope in life and death?
That we are not our own but belong to God.
This question addresses one of the greatest lies that we believe, the desire for autonomy. The lie that we have been created for ourselves and to do what makes us happy. The lie that says we are the boss of our own bodies, our own morality and our choices that we make. No one has the authority to tell us what to do or what is right because we are autonomous. It began in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve believed the lie of the serpent desiring to be independent from God (Genesis 3:5-6) and is passed down to every individual through our sinful nature (Romans 5:12). Continually seeking our independence from anyone or anything that tries to place themselves as authority over our lives. The fit that a toddler throws when you tell them they can't have candy for breakfast is not about your differing views on what is appropriate as breakfast food but an issue of autonomy. The teenager that slams the door in your face because you told them they couldn't wear that outfit is not about your differences in fashion but about the issue of autonomy. The frustration you feel when someone changes the plans that you've been looking forward to last minute is not a frustration with poor planning as much as an issue of autonomy. We all want to be our own bosses and when something gets in the way of what we think will make us happy or what we want we get angry because we are no longer in control. It has made its way into our cultural view of morality where we buy into a philosophy that we each set our own moral compasses by whatever makes us happy. Why is that? because we want to be our own god. We want to be the boss, have things go our way and to be in control of our lives. This is contrary however to what Jesus reveals to us in the Gospel, "who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). And because of the life and death that Christ died in our place when we were undeserving sinners the response of that we see in 2 Corinthians 5:15: “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves. . . .” The call of the Gospel is not autonomy but of surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives even if it makes us uncomfortable. Even if we don't agree with it. When we try and find our hope in our autonomy, we will realize that we don't have control over everything that happens in our lives. We will become obsessed with trying to control everything and it will ultimately leave us hopeless when we realize we can't. The reason is because when we try to find our hope in anything but Christ we will ultimately find ourselves disappointed. The Gospel reveals to us that our lives are not our own, but we were created for the purpose of bringing glory to God. This gives us hope because when life seems as if it is spiraling out of control we can cling in hope to the One who is in control of everything in our lives. We find rest in the sovereignty of our Creator. This is something that I have to constantly remind myself and ask for God's grace to change my heart. For His grace to help me to trust that He is working everything for my good (Romans 8:28). For His grace to help me to not view the gift of the life that He has given me something as my own to do as I please, but as something that has been given to me to bring glory to Himself.
"For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:7-8).