It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first instalment that guarantees everything He has promised us.2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NLT
Becoming a Christian is a transition, to a new identity and a new life stretching on into eternity — and a new belonging, a new sense of ownership.
Paul described it as being Christ’s slave. That doesn’t sound appealing to our ears, but some bond servants were well treated and looked after.
A previous generation knew about being “in service” as a career option. To be such a servant in the grand residence of one of the aristocracy was as close as we get to that sense of ownership. This was the age of duty, and personal freedoms came second to serving the needs of the household. But to “belong” had its own security, together with the honour by association of being identified with a high-ranking family.
It was the age of duty in another way. Many people did a spell in one of the armed forces. This kind of service was respected. There was a discipline and the needs of the service came first — as is still the case for a posting in the Royal Navy, assigned to a ship for three years and at sea for nine months at a time. However, the uniform spoke of both the duty of belonging and the honour of belonging.
On making the decision to make Christ our Lord, we are given a uniform that identifies us as belonging to Him. That is part of our spiritual authority — the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation. Paul used the picture of a Roman legionary that was familiar to people of that time. The uniform cannot be seen with human eyes, but it is plain as a pikestaff in the connected spiritual realm. We have no rank and no title on earth, but we are championed by every angel in heaven and feared by every demon belonging to the devil’s dark realm.
Christians also recognise fellow Christians. There is a spiritual bond, a one-ness in Christ, that celebrates our belonging to Christ, never mind what stream or denomination or worship preference we hold at the time. Christian unity and fellowship flows across man-made party lines.
He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit.
That seal of ownership cannot be described or pictured, but it is real in another way that every born-again Christian can recognise. This is the fellowship, the koinonia so valued in the early church and also the communion we celebrate in sharing bread and wine — belonging to each other because we belong to Christ.