|Photo courtesy of davidlat|
Now, before we go too much further I think it is important to look back into the Old Testament and see what we can learn about possession. Here I am not talking about possession as in demon possession, but rather possession as in ownership. When the Israelites entered into the Promised Land they engaged in a military campaign that would insure their habitation of the land. Beyond that they divided up the land so that each tribe could inhabit a particular portion. However, even though they inhabited the land they did not possess it. The proof of this comes from the rest of Israelite history and their constant battles, both militarily and spiritually, with the people who were also dwelling in the land. Over and over again, they are fighting with the Philistines or putting up Asherah poles or worshiping in high places. You see, to inhabit something is different than to possess it. For instance, I can inhabit an apartment or house without possessing it. We call that renting. The same could be said for a car. Often times I ask to borrow my step-father's pickup truck so we can move stuff. Does the fact that I am driving the truck make it mine? I think Bill would say, "Uhhhh, NO." Here is the difference in definition:
Inhabit: to dwell, occupy as a place of settled residence.
Possess: to have and hold as property, to enter into and control firmly.
Do you see the subtle difference? Now, here's the really amazing thing. Christ does inhabit us. As believers we have Christ in us and we are in Christ. The Bible is clear on this. However, He doesn't just want to dwell within us, He wants total control. We often talk about "the God shaped hole" in our hearts and lives that Jesus wants to fill. Garbage. Jesus doesn't want to fill some small portion of our hearts and have some control over what we do on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. He wants ALL of us. To be a follower of Christ is to be "firmly controlled" and "held as property" by God. We can accept Christ as our Savior and go no further in our walk with Him and allow Him to only inhabit our hearts. I think Paul speaks to this notion in 1 Corinthians 12-15;
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Obviously there is alot going on in this passage, but one of the things that it tells me is that whatever was not of Christ in our lives will be burned away and lost on the day we enter into the Kingdom. There is no doubt that if we have been saved and redeemed by Christ we will make it into heaven but we'll look like a meteor that has just tried to enter the earth's atmosphere, all smoking and charred because most of us has been burned away.
To truly be possessed by Christ means that we have become slaves to Him. Paul and James even identify themselves as "bond-servants" of Christ in the introduction to Romans and the book of James. Bond-servants and slaves are the property of the owner. They don't get to do whatever they want, whenever they want to. Unfortunately the fallen world that we live in has given the idea of slavery and fallen meaning. Please understand that the only slavery that I am condoning is that to Christ Jesus. We, as humans, have no right to claim another human being as property but God has every right to demand total allegiance to Him. Remember, though, this is not the demand of a tyrannical, celestial dictator. This is the loving, perfect God who sent His Son to die for each of us so that we might have a new life in Him.
There is yet another way to understand the idea of being God's possession. Most people have a few cherished possessions. When we were children our most prized things may have been stuffed animals or G.I Joes. As we grow older they may take the form of pets or cherished mementos from loved ones who have gone home. When I was overseas our most cherished items were things like root beer and Little Debbie snack cakes. Whatever the item is we guard it and take special care of it. I believe we can understand our being possessed by God in the same way. The Bible is clear that He has an incredible love for His people and it follows that He would take special care of us.
It should be awe-inspiring that the God of the universe cares about us enough to call us His own possession. This, in turn, should motivate us to allow Him to completely possess us, not just part, but the whole. You, dear friends, are God's own possession and that has deep implications for your life.