Second Reading: Romans 14:7-9

Belonging To Another

Have you ever been frustrated by your responsibilities to others? Have you ever felt your life was not your own?

Popular Translation

7 Nobody lives or dies just for themselves. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord. If we died, we die for the Lord. No matter whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this reason, so he could be the Lord of the living and the dead.

Literal Translation

7 For, no one of us lives for himself and no one dies for himself. 8 If indeed we should live, we live for the LORD; if indeed we should die, we die for the LORD. If indeed we should live or we should die, we are the LORD'S. 9 For this CHRIST died and lived (again), so that he could be the LORD of both the living and the dead.

"I'm in charge of my life." The illusion of pure self determination can easily be swept aside by a little reflection. We have responsibilities to others. Sometimes, situations and conditions overtake us and change our direction. In these times, the best advice is to simply "go with the flow."

While we might not be the complete masters of our destiny that we would like to think we are, we do make choices with our futures. We can choose to align ourselves with leaders and groups that share our vision and our values. Or, we can choose to be loners. When we become a part of a group, we surrender part of our self-determination for the good and the goals of the group. When we pledge our support to a leader, we give that leader a power of persuasion over us (and, in some cases, a power of determination).

As Christians, we are not our own simply because we have placed our trust, our lives, and our destinies in the hands of the Lord. When we first called upon Jesus as "Lord," we surrendered our self-determination to Another. But sometimes we forget that surrender when we criticize others for the controversial nature of their actions. In criticism, we make ourselves as judge and jury, quickly condemning those who offend us.

Paul faced the same problem with his readers in Rome. Gentile converts offended Jewish Christians for their disregard of the Sabbath or their insistence on eating non-kosher food (see Romans 14:1-6). Paul retorted with a challenged of vision. Can critics in the community really judge when they pledged their trust to the Lord, the judge of all? Doesn't the Lordship of Christ make all these controversies trivial in comparison?

Faith should change our outlook. Truly, we are the Lord's both in life and in death. We are not our own, for we belong to Another who will raise us up and give us new life.

How does your faith in Christ help you to be more understanding and loving toward those who offend you? How does your relationship with Christ help ease your burdens?