I belong with God and I belong with you.
These are words that every Christian should be able to say in the presence of any other Christian. We all have a need to belong and this is because of a core truth about what it is to be a human being. Before sin entered our world, we were created with a NEED to love one another and to love God. The creation of woman, the second human being was based entirely on this need. When Jesus summed up the law as loving God and loving others, He was not just pointing out the shortest way to describe all that God wants from us. He was describing the only way we can be truly fulfilled as human beings. Sin did not take away that need in us. It just covered it up like a handful of fig leaves.
If we need to belong that means we have to find new ways of relating to one another. Constant competition, trying to prove who is better or worse, erodes away at that sense of belonging, both for those judging and those receiving that judgment. When we compare one another we are not being with them, we are objectifying them and separating ourselves from relationship with them. The man who constantly compares his wife with every other woman that passes by is not really married or soon won't be. He is not loving and he is not finding his sense of belonging with his wife.
Jesus tells us that this judgmental attitude that tears down our relationships begins with our eyes. It is a question of perception, or rather of misperceptions. Our imperfections cloud our vision and cause us to see imperfections in others, which may or may not actually be there the their eyes as well. Our points of view are broken and instead of seeking healing for ourselves, we try to fix everyone around us. We work so hard to fix everyone else because we cannot fix ourselves, investing our best treasures into that work in the name of Jesus, and like a herd of ungrateful swine, or wild dogs, they come back demanding for more after they have trampled our work into the dust. We leave empty handed, discouraged, frustrated, hurt, still every bit as broken ourselves as when we started, and feeling like we still don't belong.
Jesus says we need to ask for help ourselves instead of fixing others. Imagine Adam and Eve first meeting each other. In forming that ideal relationship, do you think Adam tried to buy her friendship, her love…? What would he have given her for a lifetime of devotion (which according to Genesis was a lot longer than we live today)? Or do you think he was wise enough, gentle enough, humble enough, to know that he did nothing, had nothing, and could do nothing to deserve her? His only real option to come to a place of belonging with her was simply to ask her if she would be with him.
We build bridges by asking and we tear them down by trying to fix one another and it is in belonging together that our imperfect eyes are able to compensate for one another allowing us to see truth and allowing us to see God at work all around us. You may not realize it but it is easier to see God at work when you have a whole community you belong with looking for Him than if you are trying to do it alone.
Who do you belong with?
Where in your life do you most struggle belonging?
What do we do about those who come and try to fix us though? How do we know if we are not sure whether someone is actually belonging with us or just trying to use us? There are deceivers - wolves in sheep clothing. They are ones who ask in order to take rather than to share. They do not want to belong with us, they want to possess us. How can we tell who they are?
Jesus tells us to watch their fruit. Do they belong with God? Do you see evidence that they belong with God. Some people just radiate God's presence and goodness. Others seem to flicker with His presence more often. Some of these people shine with God's light in just a few parts of their lives and may not even know it themselves, but we can see God at work in them. Do they belong with God or do they only want to belong with us?
How do you recognize those who are with God?
How do keep others from just fixing or using you?
At some point our relationship needs to grow from acquaintance to friend and from friend to family. This happens between Jesus and us. The disciples started out belonging with Jesus, but after 3 years, a lot of challenges, a lot of miracles, and trust built, they no longer belonged with Jesus, they belonged to Jesus. They were His and He was theirs and nothing in this world could separate them. The two had become one. They no longer did things in order to earn the favor of God. They knew they already had it because they had given themselves to Him. They served because God asked them to serve. Even in that most intimate relationship between God and ourselves, God still asks of us and we still ask of Him and when we meet Him in person someday, He will already know us because we belong to Him.
Those disciples also learned to belong to each other. They may have scattered when Jesus was arrested, but most of them were gathered together to witness His resurrection and those that were not were named as doubting, not being faithful. We belong to those we trust and we will suffer with them. Either we will belong to Jesus and suffer with Him, or we will belong to this world and suffer with it. There is no escape from suffering, just a choice of what kind of suffering we will face and when. The storm is coming, the rain will pour and the wind will blow and our house - our life belongs to whatever ground we have built it upon.
I belong to God and I belong to you.
Who do you trust most in your life?
Who would you be willing to suffer for?
(Taken from Matthew 7)
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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