“You belong to God, my dear children…because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4 (NLT)
Some time ago I was invited to a reunion where people who had attended the same grade school would gather. Since I hadn’t seen many of these people for years—in some cases, not since we had left those grade school years—I anticipated the event with joy.
At the check in desk, we were given name tags with pictures from those long ago years so we would recognize each other! My, how we had changed but old relationships were quickly renewed as we reminisced and exchanged new information.
In the middle of one such conversation, I glanced toward the door where a woman stood, glancing uneasily into the room. In spite of the passage of years, I recognized Sharon and walked over to greet and welcome her to the party. “Oh, I don’t know if I want to come in. School years weren’t particularly happy for me. I never felt like I belonged. And I don’t feel like I belong now.”
Psychologists and doctors say a sense of belonging is a basic human need, just like food and shelter. Feeling that we belong is important in seeing value in our lives. In the 1600’s, writers of what came to be known as the Heidelberg Catechism (a document of questions and answers designed to teach the biblical basics of the Christian faith) anticipated and understood the importance of belonging.
In answer to the question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”, the startling and life affirming answer rings out: “That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
I don’t have to pretend to be part of a group. No more wondering if I speak, act, live like others in order to be accepted.
Money, education, status, occupation are not prerequisites for this belonging. At a much deeper level, I need never wonder if God is waiting for me to get cleaned up enough to meet His standards. Nothing I do can make God love me more. Or less.
Belonging to you, Father, is my safe place. I nestle in your arms, I am protected by your strength, I am loved forever.
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