Unowned

I used to be a Coke guy. I refused to drink Pepsi because Coke was my brand.

But then one day, I realized that I had let a soft drink manufacturer own me. I was offering allegiance to the maker of fizzy brown sugar water. Coke and Pepsi had declared cola wars and made me think I had to choose between them. But in that moment of clarity, I realized I had let them into my mind. I had let them define a part of my life. I had let them lure me into making an attachment I didn’t need to make.

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So, I stopped being a Coke guy.

At first, that meant intentionally drinking a Pepsi instead of a Coke. But later on, it meant eschewing cola completely. Once I’d gotten rid of the falsely required allegiance, it was easy to get rid of the underlying but unstated “you must drink cola to be happy” assertion.

Once I became aware of how Coke had tricked me — mostly by buying my allegiance with advertising — I started seeing how “owned” I’ve allowed myself to be in all kinds of areas of my life.

At one point, Levis owned my jeans buying; Apple owned my computers, music players, and phones; the NIV owned my Bible reading; and on it went. Owned.

I shrank my world by limiting myself to my unnecessary allegiances.

So, I have tried to bust free from being owned by those who have no business owning any part of me — political parties, professional sports leagues, denominational affiliations, shoe companies. I haven’t always been successful in this, since my heart longs to make attachments.

That’s not surprising, since every human heart longs to make attachments. Those attachments are supposed to be relational, but in our world of disconnected individualism, we get tricked into replacing relational attachments with consumer attachments. And I fall for it as badly as anyone else.

My wedding band is the sign of one of my deepest attachments. In marriage, I am “owned” by my wife (1 Cor. 7:4). I’m not a slave to my wife, but I am bound to her. She is no ball and chain, but my life is tied up in and interwoven with hers.

My baptism is the sign of my deepest attachment. In baptism, I have been immersed into Christ. I have identified myself fully with Christ. I have become part of the body of Christ, the church. As Paul writes, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

There is an ownership that I experience which ought to cancel out all of these other ways that I allow myself to be bought. By being bought and owned by Jesus, I become free to live the life I was created to live in the first life, free to live saved from and unsnared by false allegiances that stand against my core relational commitments in Christ.