As of July 18, I have been living in my apartment for a month. A whole month. 30 days.
In the times of peace I get, I think about how I got to be blessed with a place to call “home.” A place to make a home. A place to praise the Lord in. It wasn’t too long after I moved in that I realized something; I wouldn’t have been able to get into my apartment if it hadn’t been for the church itself. Once that idea planted itself in my head, I couldn’t shake it off. And soon, I began drawing some parallels between renting (in my case, from a company) and being a member of the church.
- You’re taking care of something that isn’t yours.
I equate renting to borrowing something, because that’s essentially what I’m doing. For a certain amount of money each month, I am paying for a space that’s not mine, but a company is letting me borrow. At the end of our agreement, in this case a lease, I am to give what I’ve been borrowing back in the condition I found it in. If I damage the property in any way, I am responsible for what is to come.
In the same sense, think of your body. God has given us this flesh, this house for our souls. We have free will, meaning we can do with it what we want; but it isn’t necessarily ours. God calls us to keep it free from defilement. My mind automatically goes to Galatians 5:19-21, where Paul says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like: of which I tell you beforehand, just as I told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (NKJV).
Notice Paul is talking about physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the body. What a lot to be responsible for! All of what Paul talks about seems to dwarf the fact I have to change my air filter once a month and sweep the kitchen every few days. But just like sweeping and changing the air filter, it’s important I’m diligent in what I do so I can properly serve God. That means I have to take care of my body physically, mentally, and spiritually. We all have to – they aren’t ours to do with what we please.
Now let me be clear – I’m not saying that our physical bodies go with us to Heaven when we die. I am saying that we are to give our bodies (in the physical, spiritual, and mental sense) back to the Lord.
How can we do that? Think of things like media consumption and every day speech. Are you watching trashy YouTube videos, or reading a book of the Bible? Are you putting your health at risk by participating in premarital sex or recreational drug use? Do you take the Lord’s name in vain? If this body is a vessel for the one true God, we need to keep it internally and externally pure.
- You will pay for the damages you cause.
This house, the one that has been trusted to me, came with carpets that need to be stretched and a drawer in the kitchen that needed to be replaced. Even though it’s chipped and smudged, this is still the place I call home. However, evidence of wear and lack of care are all over the place. Should I decide to do more damage, the cost of repairing those damages is on me.
Spiritually, I think of this principle following along the lines of “you reap what you sow.” If you live a life that is not pleasing to the Lord, you will not hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant.” You wield weapons capable of hurting those closest to you. You walk in darkness, away from the God so willing to bring you back and be a child of His. I’m speaking from personal experience here – I did the whole atheist thing (if you want to talk about religion or my past experiences, please comment below). I said whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. What did I get? Broken friendships and bitter arguments. The same applies to others – a few people closest to me have made unGodly decisions, and myself and others now have to live with a shattered family dynamic. Some of the choices I made still haunt me today, and they are mistakes and decisions I have been forced to live with.
But there is hope, and more importantly, redemption. If you practice your faith, evangelize to others, immerse yourself daily in the Word, and follow His commandments, you will have purpose and run a race worthy of an eternal reward.
That’s not all you have to do, though; living a Christian life is more than Bible studies and Sunday worship. It’s daily bearing your cross, denying yourself, and choosing to follow God and His will for your life. I’m not going to lie to you – it’s not easy. And anyone who says otherwise should get a slap on the wrist. But it’s the demands of the race – take comfort in knowing the community that [runs] beside you is struggling with keeping up just as much as you are. But don’t let road bumps, leg cramps, and dehydration be defining factors in keeping you from your eternal reward.
- You’re trusted with much.
I had to clear a background check. I have to pay my rent, on time, every month. I have to remember to change my air filter and take the trash out. The company I rent from didn’t make the decision to take me on as a tenant lightly, and I don’t think I would have been able to care for an apartment just a year ago.
Now that I look back on it, I can see the baby steps I had to take to get to where I am now. First, I was trusted with time management. Then a car. Then school and a couple jobs at the same time. Now, I have a place to call my home. My getting an apartment (I’m convinced of this, anyway) is almost like a culmination of my college career. This entire time, God has been preparing me to take on the responsibility and do more “adult things” with my life. However, I can’t lose sight of the reason I have what I have.
I have what I have because God has trusted me. To the best of my ability, I have obeyed His commandments, freely loved Him and gave my life to Him, and strived to love His other children. Am I successful 24/7? No. Will I always pay my bills on time? No. For both counts, there will be times that I fail and fall short. But I don’t want to lose the trust I have earned from my landlord or God – I have to take care of the little that I have so that I can be trusted with more.
At the end of the day, as I lay my head down to sleep, I have a bed, security, comfort. What a blessing, and what a rich reward.
For those of you who haven’t seen my apartment, know that it’s quaint, sparsely decorated, and being used for God’s Kingdom. I have dreams of tea parties and group Bible studies, and should I get the opportunity to make that happen, I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to give glory to God. In fact, I think that’s a challenge I have for you, reader. What have you done to give back to the Lord?