In the Philippines, especially in its capital Manila, the roads are filled with these rowdy jeepneys – the engine sound, the sudden stops, the blings and stickers on their bodies. As a driver, you would want to stay as far away from them as possible which is an impossible feat in the metro. These jeeps would often have names written on their body or hanged on the back, sometimes stickers of zodiac signs, artwork, or the face of Jesus, others hang signs like “God bless our trip” or some pinoy hugot or humor quotes.
As I was done with my first trip this morning and on my way to the second one, I was already getting cheesed off with the bad Manila traffic, the buses and pedestrians, the chaos so early on a Monday morning. And it’s a Monday. Half-way to my second destination, this jeep cut me and I was about to lose it when I saw what’s written on its side “Jesus Owns You” and it spells JOY.
So simple. 3-letter word. 3 words. Says it all. It occurred to me how we all strive and struggle to be happy, to find peace, to be filled with joy – the joy that the world can never ever take away from us. We search, we seek, we ask, we knock yet often we are left asking for more or asking more questions. All along, what Jesus is telling us, what God wants from us, is to be owned by Him – yet we cannot have that. I am my own, this is my life – don’t we all say that and live that? I want joy but I want my life to be my own as well. Hmm… I really don’t know how we can work around that when JOY is simply being owned by Jesus.
What does it mean to be owned by Jesus and why do most of us resist?
To be owned even just by someone is to be a slave of that person, to obey and act on that person’s commands. Didn’t God give me this life and didn’t God make me free? Then why does He suddenly want me to be owned by Him? Oh, those arguments I’ve heard too many times, even from my own head. We all hate it when some other being tries to dictate and control our lives. We all dislike the idea of moving around under a watchful eye, all our actions scrutinized. We all shudder at the thought of being controlled. Yet we fail to see how much the world has owned us, how much our work has taken over our lives, how much money has enslaved us, how much our family or friends or somebody else have drove us to depression with their words, how much the devil cunningly took over the our lives and the world. Either you are now nodding your head or trying to defend whatever that is that enslaves you.
Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. True joy is found in that – to be owned by Him who carries the burden and faced death for us. To be freed by the One who gives true freedom and to remain with the One who gives true joy. To rest under His care and to obey Him who demands so little yet gives so much.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- Matthew 11:28-30
In this life we are free – we are free to choose and decide who owns us. Will we choose to be enslaved by our work, our money, our possessions, our fame, our success, some people, or our ideals? Or will we choose joy and let Jesus take over us?
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
- Psalm 16:9-11