The Blessing of Belonging

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“One of the deepest longings of the soul is to belong – to be a part of something outside of ourselves, to be included, loved, appreciated, to know we contribute, take part in, fulfill a role, have a place. That’s why family and church are so fundamental to who we are and how God has created us. God established the family and the church as tangible, relational, loving, supportive structures to which we belong.

This desire to belong is so strong that if we don’t find belonging in God-given means, we will reach out to find belonging in other communities. That’s why gangs thrive; they thrive in environments where the family is broken or the church is inactive. Sometimes we do have access to God-given means of community, but we blindly substitute them or even unintentionally seek to replace them. So we find community at work, in sports, in social groups and clubs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with belonging to other groups unless they become our fundamental means of identity and result in the neglecting of the communities God intends to be our core – the family and the church. Those are the two God-ordained communities.

But ultimately, our greatest desire to belong goes much deeper than any of these communities. The ultimate desire of our souls for belonging is the basic desire to belong to God. Knowing that we have been reconciled to God, knowing that we belong to Christ, the Good Shepherd, grounds the soul in satisfaction and gives meaning, direction and purpose for every other community to which we belong.” Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor

Do you long to belong to Christ? What are the blessings of belonging to Him? Click on the link below to hear Pastor Wil Owens as he talks about what it looks like to belong to the Good Shepherd.

Walking Towards Sunday: Thinking the Best of One Another

Church family life. You gotta love it. You don’t get to choose your family but you do get to love them! A church family is where we can experience the joy of being known and accepted and yet it is also the crucible where we are challenged to practice forgiveness, patience, and loyalty in situations we most likely would otherwise flee. Being in a church family is perhaps the single most sanctifying and yet most blessed place to be. So how do we stick it out? How do we keep from bouncing from family to family looking for that elusive group of individuals who agree with us and are always kind and (just so you don’t get too excited) don’t  exist? You could write a tome on this subject but perhaps one of the best tactics for keeping offenses from running wild with us is to challenge ourselves to see our brothers and sisters in Christ the way God sees them. Precious treasures to Him, each different in form and content, made for different purposes and each utterly unique.

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In fact, that’s really not the best picture. There should be stones of all different sizes and shapes and in the process of being cut into gemstones. After all, we are all in different stages of uncut-ness! (I just made up that word.)

None among us is perfect. The longer we spend together the more we are sure to discover our friends’ strengths and weaknesses. It’s good to acknowledge whatever these are but anger and bitterness rise when we are tempted to nurse a grudge. This leads to the joy-killing tendency to focus on the uncut portion of our friends’ lives and to refuse to see the parts that sparkle and shine and reflect the glory of God. In fact, when we are dwelling on our neighbors’ faults we might as well be focusing on the underside of the setting of a beautiful ring. The gemstone and the plan of the jeweler is not displayed from the bottom but on the top. The great challenge of our lives is to continually rotate our mental picture of each other until we see the qualities that make them precious and unique.

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Rotating our view of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is to have the mind of Christ. It is to take every thought captive and to see them as the redeemed, beloved, beautiful works in progress that they are. (2 Cor. 10:5) To miss it robs us of the chance to see God’s glory at work in front of us. It robs us of the chance to encourage them and to be part of the work God is doing in their life.

So spin that ring around and see your church family for a more complete view of who they really are, co-heirs with you in Christ…gorgeous, priceless works of God’s hands.

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Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  Hebrews 13:8-9

Elizabeth Hiett