OWNERS OR OCCUPIERS
When we bought our first house I remember reading the title deeds and discovering that I didn’t actually own the land upon which the house was built. At the end of nine hundred and ninety years, the land and everything on it (my house included) will revert to the landowner.
I am only the occupier of the land – not the owner. Yet because nine hundred and ninety years is so far in the future I can act as if I am the owner.
That can be the way that we live our lives. We like to think that we are in control, masters of our own destiny, free agents who can do as we like. We act as if the world that we live in is ours and that we can make the rules.
It isn’t and we can’t.
The Lord Jesus told a parable about a man who ‘planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen‘ (Luke 20: 9). The vineyard was his and the husbandmen were tenants with the responsibility to produce a crop for him.
They refused to do so: ‘he sent a servant to the husbandmen … and another servant … and he sent a third‘ (Luke 20: 10 – 12). Instead of delivering what was required of them they beat the servants and wounded them. When the owner’s son was sent they plotted to ‘kill him, that the inheritance may be ours‘ (Luke 20: 14). That attitude resulted in their own destruction.
This world is God’s world: ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth‘ (Genesis 1: 1). It was made to His design and it operates best according to his rules. How have we kept them? What ‘fruit’ have we given to God?
Our first parents – Adam and Eve – decided to ‘go it alone’: to become the arbiters of right and wrong and to wrest that away from the Creator. To act as owners rather than occupiers.
It brought the disaster that we see all around us: ‘sin entered into the world and death by sin‘ (Romans 5: 12).
Occupiers are accountable and answerable. Their freedom is limited but their happiness depends on being willing to live within those limits.
Are we willing to obey the owner?
‘Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord … so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live’ (Jeremiah 38: 20).