I belong

Belonging to Christ and Each Other

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.  Gal. 3:28-29 NASB

I belong to Christ, and so I am His heir.  That is rather mind-boggling, to think of being an heir to the God of the Universe.  And I’m not the only one.  There’s a whole passel of us, and this verse puts us all in the same family – Abraham’s descendants.  It points out that no matter our nationalities, occupations or genders, we are all siblings.  We belong to Christ – and to each other.

The past few months, this reality has been so vivid to me.  At the end of June, a church in Oklahoma called my husband as pastor.  They didn’t know us, really. Oh, they interviewed us.  The listened to my husband preach.  But basically, we were strangers.

Only they haven’t treated us that way.  They’ve treated us like family.  Over a dozen of them volunteered to drive Texas to help us paint and repair our house so we could put it on the market in top shape.  A couple of deacons surprised me the next weekend by showing up at my door with big machinery they use in their business.  They just up and landscaped my front yard for me – bushes, decorative rocks, the whole nine yards.  When they were done, the place was so cute that the first people to tour it offered us a contract.  We close today.  Why?  Because my new family helped me.

And moving day?  A whole different group of heirs from our new church drove down with borrowed trucks and trailers.  They hefted my boxes and hauled my furniture across the state line.  Once I arrived, still different siblings brought me dinner every night.  They’ve gone out of their way to invite my children to activities and introduce them to other kids their age so they wouldn’t feel lost their first day of school.  That was yesterday.  And I got several texts from heirs telling me they were praying it would go smoothly, and it did.

I feel like I came home, even though I’ve never lived here before.  The reason is tucked in this verse: We are all one in Christ.

Thank you, Jesus, that I belong to you and your other children.

I belong

Privileges and Responsibilities

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:37-40, NIV

I was working with my daughter on an English assignment today when this passage poured into my mind. Her reading was called “Ali and The Magic Stew,” and it is what I would call a Muslim parable. The story is about a rich young boy, spoiled and unkind, who must live the life of a beggar for a day in order to save his father. It was a good one, and when we finished with the assignment, I extended the lesson, taking my daughter to the book of Matthew.

We’ve thought about belonging this week, really soaking in that comforting truth. But perhaps it would be wise to look past what that means for my comfort. Swishing that around in my mind this afternoon, I mentally traveled back to the first time I’d seen The Blind Side. Sitting in that theater, I was actually in tears ten minutes into the movie. Moved deeply, not because of pity, although I felt that too, but because of conviction. Leanna saw what most people refused to look at and acted on it. I prayed as I wept, ‘God open my eyes.’

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these…”

Belonging to Christ is an enormous comfort. But as is true with privilege almost universally, it demands responsibility. Today I was again prodded by the Spirit—convicted because I have become comfortable, content to live my suburban, middle class life with blinders on to the rest of the world. Sadly, as a church, we have largely neglected the command of Christ, and the responsibility of our calling, to care for the widows and orphans, to lovingly uplift the downtrodden and those in prison. It, by and large, has become standard for us to refer those cases to the hands of a government agency, an action that renders the Church impotent in a culture that grows more proud of its darkness by the day.

Whose fault is that?

Mine. I crave the comfort of privilege while ignoring its calling.

God, open my eyes. You have made me yours, and have assured me that I belong. Show me, Lord, how to be useful.

I belong

Belonging to Christ, not the Law

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:4 NIV

“I just can’t do anything right!  I can’t please you!”  Have you ever yelled those words? Screamed them in your head?  Usually, they are directed at a person whose expectations are just too much for you to meet, but whom you desperately want to make happy.

A father.  A mother.  A husband.  A child. “I love you.  I want you to be pleased with me. I keep trying, this way and that way, with new techniques, new resolve, with effort overflowing, and yet … I fail.  I can’t keep all your rules and follow all your directions perfectly enough to win your favor.”

That’s the position the Israelites were in with the Old Testament law.  They had a gazillion rules to keep, and they kept breaking them, because those Israelites were as human and broken and sinful as you and me.  They had become slaves to the law.  It had become miserable.

And then Jesus came, offering a new way to find God.  Not through rules, but through grace.  This verse describes the turning point.  Before, you were married to the law.  You belonged to it.   But you died to it.  And you have a new life now, one in which you belong to someone utterly unlike the law – Jesus.

Instead of offering us a list of rules and a grumpy face because He knows we’ll break them, Jesus says … Come, be mine.  Let me love you. Give your life to me and let me mold you. Let me point out your sins, not to wear you down but to help you live more freely without their chains. Let me accept you despite all your faults.  You please me, just because … you belong to me.

When we live under that kind of freedom, when we are cherished by God, the good fruits (good works) grow out of grateful hearts transformed, not enslaved hearts striving to try to get it right.

Belonging. Freedom. Joy.  Mine in Christ.

I belong

I Am His

 

“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands . . .” Isaiah 49:15-16, NASB

While oftentimes faithfulness is revealed in the darkest moments in life, I believe that it is forged in the sunshine. The times of plenty are not only times to celebrate the bounty and joy of provision, but they are times to store up for the future. Spiritually, this is essential.

Oh heart of mine, write these words in the deepest places. Brand them so they cannot be removed. He has engraved your name on the palm of His hands–He will not forget you. You belong to Him.

Love this song . . . It played in my mind today as I was pondering this post. I pray it would bless you as it does me.

I belong

I Belong: A Joint Post

The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 5:5, NKJV

From Jen

Ever hear the phrase “weird middle kid”? I’m one of those—the middle of five. And, yeah, we’re a little on the different side. I’ve always attributed that to the fact that I never really fit in the line-up of kids. Not one of the big kids (who were both boys, so that didn’t help much). Not one of the little kids (who were and are still very close. Can we say outsider?).

Okay, so I know this sounds like a poor Jen post, but I’ve made peace with my lot in life ;). The point is I’ve lived a large portion of my life feeling like I didn’t belong. However, moving out, going to college, and striking at life as an adult, I’ve discovered something: Most of us feel that way. Oldest, youngest and everyone in between; most of us, at some point or another, feel like we don’t belong.

I have a theory about that. If we thought we belonged, we’d never know we were lost. If we didn’t know we were lost, we’d never search for a home. And home . . . home is the Father’s heart. The place where we actually, really and truly belong.

From Susan

I love the verse Jen chose to illustrate belonging. God’s love has been poured out — the pitcher turned upside down and dumped – into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

I am in the midst of moving. The stress of packing, living out of boxes, registering my kids in a new school, still having to edit (my job doesn’t stop just because my life is hectic), and running almost daily back and forth between two states as we try to finalize all the paperwork to sell our home – well, it had me in tears yesterday. So, I called my Mommy. I cried on her and even yelled a little. I knew she’d accept me despite my bad behavior, because I belong to her. I am rock-solid confident in her love for me. I’m hers. I always will be.

As I hung up the phone, feeling better, the Holy Spirit pricked me. I’m His, too, yet I wasn’t telling him about my woes. Why not? I searched for the answer and came up with this: I’m ashamed that I’m stressed. This is minor stuff, and it all comes as a result of blessings: a new home and a new church that loves us and has called my husband as pastor. Really, I didn’t want to bother the God of the Universe with my petty moving stress when there are people out there struggling with cancer, persecution, and depression.

But God reminded me that I am His daughter, His. And while my current trials may not be big stuff, He wants me to unload on Him so He can help me, change my perspectives, convict me where I am wrong and blanket me in peace. He will accept me just as surely as my mother does, even when I am behaving badly.

I belong to Him. He’s poured out His love into my heart. It is far more overwhelming than my mother’s love. And that’s saying a lot. I have a fiercely loving mother.

Ever so much fiercer is my God’s love for those who belong to Him.