Written by Desiree Visser

The issue of “belonging” is one of the more elementary and instinctive needs humans have. It speaks of safety, protection and being understood. In many historical communities belonging is akin to survival. We are often driven unconsciously to fit in and belong within our social networks. Many of these networks have rules for belonging. For example you may need to act or look a certain way in order to belong; or you may be required to have a specific skill set in order to belong.  

The groups to which we may belong may be structured and formal in nature (e.g. a group of gr. 9 students) with standard norms OR informal, with more unspoken rules (e.g. popular group). Some groups may be inclusive and invite variety and diversity, while other groups are more exclusive and require more uniformity.

It is worth taking a look at the informal groups to which you belong and notice your attitude towards others on the inside (and outside) of your groups.  
  • Am I accepting or judgmental of those who are different to me?
  • Do I enjoy conversations with people who share my viewpoint or do I enjoy hearing an alternative perspective?
  • Do I go out of my way to connect with people who I would ordinarily not spend time with?  
  • How did Jesus deal with people who differed from Him?

People, especially young people, are often prepared to lay down their personal opinions, beliefs and attitudes in order to “fit” into a group. The cost of being themselves and the risk of expulsion from the group is too high to be authentic and genuine. Obviously not every group provides a safe place to foster a sense of belonging. Dr. Brene Brown “Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging have the courage to be imperfect.”

Jesus understands our desire to belong. Our need for belonging is answered in Him.
Romans 8: 15 – 17 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with Him.”  

The belonging that Jesus provided for us through His death and resurrection is total and complete.

When we receive Jesus as our Lord, we receive innumerable blessings and also:
  • Adoption into the family of God; not as orphans but as children.
  • Complete love, despite our flaws.
  • Complete acceptance, despite our worthlessness.
  • Complete safety, despite our imperfections.  
  • Complete belonging.

Our need for belonging is met in Jesus, and He calls us to include others in the same way. When we look at the church of Corinth, they were group of diverse people who were also struggling with a sense of belonging. They all believed in Jesus, but they were carnal in their struggle for superiority and position within the body of Christ. Paul states “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. The one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:5 – 7).  

What a mighty God we serve! Our sense of belonging is found in Christ, and our belonging is total and complete – not based on our own worthiness, goodness or lovability. We do not have to be fearful slaves, fearing rejection and abandonment. Praise the Lord! Our belonging is not based on our uniformity but on our faith in Jesus and His righteousness and forgiveness. We can be diverse, unique, different and with our own personalities AND STILL BELONG TO THE FAMILY OF CHRIST.  

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