We are all on a journey. Hopefully… prayerfully… our journey involves growth in all aspects of our lives. Let me be honest, there are several areas of my life where I obviously need to grow. One area that I continue to be very conscious of is being “politically correct.” I don’t want to say the wrong thing and be offensive. I am a work in progress and admit I am not always “politically correct,” and when I slip up, someone will look at me with a raised eyebrow or call me out on it, which I appreciate, because it helps me learn and grow.

I recently came across an article stating the following…

They were just kidding, I’m sure, but at a gathering of students I overheard one student say to another, “Back off, mister. She’s already spoken for.”

A male student had attempted to engage a young woman in conversation. His buddy wheeled around and claimed her as his girlfriend.

“I didn’t know we were boyfriend and girlfriend,” said the young woman in amazement, “How sweet.”

Some might say that is indeed kind of sweet. Others might see it as being offensive, because it seems to suggest a sense of possession or ownership. Maybe, just maybe, we take being “politically correct” to the extreme. I certainly appreciate the offensiveness of “belonging” to someone else. In fact, in the marriage ceremonies I conduct, I never ask, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” No one is property to be GIVEN to another. I always ask both sets of parents to give their blessing to the marriage of their children.

Yet there is something endearing about being spoken for. If I am speaking about my daughters, I might say: MY Lee Ann, MY Amy or MY Melanie. When referring to my wife, I might also say, MY Nancy. It is not about possession or ownership but about relationship; it is all about love.

Now, aside from any concerns about “political correctness” of that exchange, it is important to keep that conversation in mind—“Back off, she’s already spoken for.”

I love the way Jesus holds claim to us in John’s gospel: “MY sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I givethem eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.”

Do you hear it? We are spoken for! Someone has turned toward us, reached out to us, called us by name, and spoken for us. We are named and claimed by one who does not intend to allow others to name or claim us: Jesus.

No matter how hard we try, no matter which technique we use, we are incapable of climbing up to God. We are totally dependent on God climbing down to us.

And in Jesus Christ, that’s just what God has done. Jesus speaks of himself as “the good shepherd.” There may be some shepherds who say to themselves, when some dumb sheep wanders away from the safety of the fold, “Aw, let it go. I’ve got plenty of other sheep who stayed right here at home. I can do without one sheep.” No. The good shepherd, Jesus insists, goes out and beats the bushes and searches for that one wayward sheep until he finds that sheep, and then the good shepherd brings that sheep back safely to the fold.

Jesus says that that same good shepherd—once he has laid hold of his sheep, once he knows his sheep on a first-name basis—will never, ever let his sheep out of his grasp. They will never, ever wander so far that the good shepherd can’t find them.

We all need to hear that reassurance from Jesus. Our relationship with God is based solely on something that God has thought, felt, and done for each of us.

Please remember these strong, reassuring words when you come to your times, as we all do, of doubt, uncertainty, and wandering. All of us are subject to various voices that tempt us away from our relationship with Christ. They lure:

  • You are a self-made person

  • Think for yourself

  • Accumulate all the stuff you can to protect yourself from an uncertain future

  • Get a gun and learn how to use it well, it’s your only security

  • Why waste your time at church, you’ve got better things to do

  • Faith is fantasy; stick with the facts and live your life on the basis of what you can prove to yourself

But then, even amid the seduction of the American, demonic sirens, you hear another voice: “This one is mine, and no one will snatch this one out of my hand.”

That’s our one, best hope. We are claimed. We have been spoken for. And once Jesus has claimed us, he will never, ever let us go.

That is the message I want to loudly and boldly proclaim each and every Sunday; we are ALL sheep that belong to Jesus, no exceptions. We are all totally dependent upon the grace of God through the living Christ. God’s grace and love cannot be earned or bought, and certainly we do not deserve them. They are God’s unconditional gifts to us. The Gospel is not what we do for God, but what God has chosen to do for us through Jesus.

May each of us have hope that Christ will say of us at the end, “That one’s part of my flock. That one is spoken for.”

Pastor Russel

Photo by Raphael Goetter