Learning to Own It
- Wednesday, September 25, 2013
*The following is an excerpt from Own It, one of two companion books to the upcoming Christian film Grace Unplugged. In theaters October 4, 2013
What Is “Owning” Your Faith?
Weak faith in a strong object is infinitely better than strong faith in a weak object. —Tim Keller
Ownership is a powerful thing. It makes people feel things—things like love, pride, responsibility, and even jealousy. Ownership colors a person’s view of the object of their possession and its value. What you feel for something you own is completely different than how you feel about something that isn’t yours. That’s why people tend to care about their own stuff. Ownership feeds devotion and it often dictates action.
For example, people tend to take better care of stuff that they own than stuff that they rent. And they love the stuff they own more than the stuff they borrow. How many times have you lent something to someone who didn’t take care of it the way you do? When you borrow something, your attention to it is temporary. Ownership conveys permanence. The stuff you own matters to you.
But ownership doesn’t just apply to things, it also applies to lives. Have you ever met an animal person who loved their pet so much that they treated it like a child? There are some powerful emotions that come from having a living thing that belongs to you. When people fight for their country, when they fight for their loved ones, it’s because they are their loved ones. Aren’t the other countries and families just as valuable?
Yes, but they are not theirs and so they fight for what is theirs. Children, even those who are abused by their parents, are born with an innate ability to love their parents, simply because they are theirs, regardless of how horribly they treat them. Though that can dissipate with time (and abuse,) it’s there to begin with. And the same is true for parents, they feel a deep sense of ownership for their kids, not the kind of ownership of slave and master, as some kids might believe, but a kind of ownership that instills an enormous degree of love and pride that only your own kids can illicit, no matter how much they may or may not deserve it.
Yes, when something is yours it becomes immediately more important to you than something that is not yours. But not all ownership has to do with the legal right to control or do whatever you want with what you own. No, ownership can also apply to a state of heart, a way of living whereby you make what you say and what you do agree. As in when you own your actions, rather than faking your way through life, living a double life, pretending to be something that you aren’t in order to please those you love. This double mindedness becomes evident in matters of faith where it can be easy to hide your true feelings and thoughts, and to put on a good face when all the while you are a confused mess on the inside.
And in your uncertainty, an inability to own your faith can result in choices that hurt not only yourself but also your relationships. In this condition, you own neither your beliefs nor your actions, but instead you end up in a no-man’s-land that breeds animosity for the very things in your life that you say you love. In the life of faith, then, there are conditions of the heart that mimic faith, but are far from a true faith that not only saves, but encourages, repairs, heals, and changes you from the inside out. These conditions that do not involve owning your faith are founded in the attempt to fake it, borrow it, rent it, or pick and choose it, and ultimately their end is the ultimate act of disowning it.
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