William Ernest Henley’s famous poem Invictus closes with the lines, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Though written in 1875, the couplet could serve as a rallying cry for the contemporary Western world, where freedom is interpreted as “doing whatever you please,” and every individual is given a near-sacred right of self-definition.
The drive to set ourselves up as our own authority is the essence of humanity’s sinful nature as seen in Adam and Eve’s desire to ‘be like God’ (Genesis 3:1-6).
I feel this innate pull myself. I don’t like being told what to do or how to spend my money or time. I want to be free.
But today’s verse, and many others that echo it, proclaim Jesus as the forever King. The world is his, whether we accept it or not. Those who don’t follow Jesus understandably disregard his authority. Christians, however, are called to submission and obedience. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
The ministry I serve with, Cru, invites college students to sign a countercultural pledge to “go, do, say, and give” whatever God may ask of them. This invitation to yield all career, finances, relationships, and possessions to the kingly authority of Christ is both scary and difficult. It’s a daily, willful choice. But doing so yields peace, purpose, and protection — the very things the autonomy of self falsely promises.
Father, thank you that you have set your Son on a permanent and universal throne. I confess my constant inclination to take control of my own life, and my actions that attempt to usurp your lordship over me. By the power of your Spirit, help me to yield all to Jesus and experience the peace and joy of living in your good Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Go Deeper — Take 15 minutes and make a list of everything you can think of that you “own,” from material possessions to intangibles like time. Then select a few items and consider the questions, “What does it mean that Christ truly owns this, not I? What might it look like to live with this fully surrendered to him?”
Photo Credit: Jonathan Chng