“To whom I belong”

Today we read the dramatic account of Paul’s experience of shipwreck on the way to Rome. It is a first person account as Luke, the author of the book of Acts, is with him. The point which particularly caught our attention was Paul’s way of talking to the crew when they were in utter desperation and the loss of the ship with everyone on it seemed certain. We read, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned” (27:20). It was then that Paul stood up and said, “I urge you to take heart for there will not be loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship” (verse 23).

Note that Paul, in referring to his God, whom no one except he and Luke would know. Many gods of human imagination would have been worshipped by the Romans, Greeks and others in the crew; Paul says “the God I worship” and then significantly adds, “to whom I belong”. We are sure none of the idol worshippers viewed their Gods in that way! Do we view our God in that way?

Consider the point Paul makes to the Corinthians after reproving them for their sexual and other immoralities (1 Corinthians 5). “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). Those who are baptised commit their lives into the service of God and of Jesus Christ His son.

In the same way, the people of Israel under Moses entered into a covenant with the God that had delivered them, they belonged to him! Moses had told them, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Sadly, most of the people in the generations that followed failed to have the sense of belonging to God possessed by those entering the promised land. If we make no commitment to belong to God, then we belong to the world – a world which is facing an awesome shipwreck!