Robert Ingersoll, an atheistic philosopher of a previous generation, said that believers were like “a song-less bird in a cage.” I’m afraid that many unbelieving people today still have that same impression of Christians. But I’d argue that if the truth be known that phrase would much better describe a non-believer. The story would be that God made us all. We belong to God. God commissioned us to have dominion over the entire world and to enjoy life to its fullest. But we traded that dominion and freedom when we ate of the apple from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We thus became slaves to sin. It was then that we were enslaved in the cage of sin. Jesus put it this way: “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34). We sold ourselves. But Christ bought us back. He paid the penalty (price) for our sin and redeemed us. The word “redeem” in the Greek text means to “buy back.”

Dr. A. J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston many years ago. One day he met a little boy out in front of the church. The boy was carrying a rusty bird cage in his hands and several little birds were fluttering around on the bottom of the cage, as if they knew they were going to be destroyed. Dr. Gordon said, “Son, where did you get those birds?” The boy answered, “I trapped them out in the field.” “What are you going to do with them?” the preacher asked. “I’m going to take them home and play with them and have some fun with them.” “What will you do with them when you get through playing with them?” Dr. Gordon asked. “Oh,” said the boy, “I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have around the house.” Then Dr. Gordon asked the boy how much he would take for the birds and the boy answered, “Mister, you don’t want these birds. They’re just little old field birds and they can’t sing very well.”

Dr. Gordon said, “I’ll give you two dollars for the cage and the birds.” “All right,” said the boy, “It’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went whistling down the street, happy because he had two dollars in his pocket. Dr. Gordon took the cage out behind his church and opened the door of the cage and the birds flew out and went soaring away into the blue, singing as they went. The next Sunday Dr. Gordon took the empty bird cage to the pulpit to use it in illustrating his sermon. Then he said, “That little boy said that the birds could not sing very well, but when I released them from the cage they went singing away into the blue, and it seems that they were singing, “Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed.””

“And you belong to Christ…” 1 Corinthians 3:21