We live in a time that places, above all else, personal autonomy. Our key doctrines are that no one has a right to tell me what to do with my body. No one has the right to pick my gender for me. No one has the right to tell me that my truth isn’t true. We love our autonomy.
Or rather, the world does. But Christian, we are not of this world. We are not to be conformed to the patterns of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
For the Christian, here’s why the ideas of personal autonomy don’t work:
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. – Romans 14:7-8
Paul has just been discussing with the church at Rome Christian liberty. Some wanted to eat meat sacrificed to idols and some were convicted to not do so. Paul’s point, and Christ with Him, is that it doesn’t matter which one they choose provided that they do so with thankful, worshipful hearts. And the reason that Paul gives is that we are not our own.
Christians don’t have personal autonomy. Who gives us all things? Christ. Who has the right to tell us what to do with our bodies? The Lord. Who has the right to command us to fulfill our gender roles? The King. Who has the right to govern every aspect of our lives? Jesus Christ our sovereign.
And here’s why He has this right:
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. – Romans 14:9
Paul writes in Philippians 2 that Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. So God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So, Christ, in effect, has purchased us. He purchased our freedom, yes, from the other slave holder, sin. But that does not mean we are no longer slaves. We are slaves to Christ now. And that means that we are free indeed–free to serve Him with everything.
For the Christian, that should be our greatest joy. If someone hates the idea of submitting all things to Jesus, then they might not have a new heart in Christ or they just don’t understand that life in Christ is the most abundant, joyful life there is. And that will not stop at the end of life. Even in death, He is Lord, and especially in death, we will enjoy Him for all eternity.
So, do not worship personal autonomy. Worship the Lord and surrender all to Him, by His grace.