Toyota has been running a series of commercials for their new 2017 Corolla that is definitely designed to appeal to the millennials. Several vignettes of 20-somethings who choose the unconventional, quit their jobs, or party all night on the beach are shown while the background music to Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit, “You Don’t Own Me,” swells louder and louder. Given the lyrics of the song, it’s hard to imagine she envisioned it being the theme music for a car commercial.
Yet, its message is exactly what the car manufacturer is counting on to win young car buyers to their latest edition of the Corolla. Our culture has stressed the sentiment captured in the title of that song for decades. It is the core belief of more than one generation.
The irony is that culture is never about individuality and individual freedoms. No matter how clever the wording or how well the tune resonates, it’s still about changing from one cultural norm to another. Society doesn’t really want anyone to be different, but it does want to move individuals into a different group with a different (but like-minded) set of values. Toyota would never use the song at all if they thought it had no value in getting—not one, but tens of thousands of—millennials to buy their Corolla. If every person in their target group buys a new 2017 Corolla, Toyota (along with Lesley Gore’s estate) will laugh all the way to the bank.
“You don’t own me. Don’t try to change me in any way” may strike a chord in the hearts of millions, but behind the thought and the music is a truth that the song would never admit. You already ARE owned. And your owner will work throughout our whole life with the hope and with the goal that YOU will never try to change yourself in any way.
The reality that we are all owned is a theme of Romans 6. Our baptism was our appeal and our desire to no longer be slaves to sin (Rm. 6:6). Slavery, by definition, demands obedience. Enslaved to sin, we are obedient to the will of Satan, resulting in death. Enslaved to Christ, we are to be obedient to Him, resulting in life (Rm. 6:16). A Christian is not someone who is free to be unattached and the autonomous ruler of self. Instead, a Christian is someone who chose to be obedient from the heart to the teaching of the gospel and so become free from slavery to sin (Rm. 6:17) and becomes a slave to righteousness (Rm. 6:18) and thus presents their mind, body, and soul to God through Christ as a slave of righteousness (Rm. 6:19).
Own the car of your choosing—that’s a liberty entrusted to you by both the prince of this world and the God of heaven and earth—like or dislike the lyrics and the melody of Lesley Gore’s hit song (I’ve got to admit it’s growing on me).
But as you think of all the things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday, be thankful that YOU ARE OWNED and that through His word and His Spirit, God is working to change you in every way!
Keep studying. DC Brown ©2016