“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” – I Peter 1:3
The movie Lion is an affecting, yet life-affirming human drama about a young Indian boy who finds himself thousands of miles from home. Separated from his family for more than 25 years, the boy eventually finds his way to his birthplace in India. Lion serves as a reminder that while the human experience may appear vastly different on the surface, we all universally have the need to belong. The need to belong was not our idea, it was God’s idea. God did not hard wire us to be isolated robots, but relational people with the need to belong. And when that need to belong is met, it can change our lives.
That is why we nag, cajole, and try to entice you to join a small group. After all, is that not what we all want. We want a place where we find love, encouragement, reassurance, acceptance, validation and the occasional dose of accountability. A place where we feel at home, included, affirmed and supported, a place where we just know that we fit, that we belong. But we can also never lose sight of the fact that we belong to God.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus ministered to people who never felt like they belonged—lepers, tax collectors, outcasts, notorious sinners—and he assured them that they belonged to God. On one occasion Jesus put it this way, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,” (John 10:27-28). Paul’s wrote in Romans 14: 7-8, “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” In other words, we belong to God.
Just a few weeks before he was executed by the Nazis on April 9, 1945, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the following poem that talks about the something that matters much more than who you are: Whose you are:
“Who am I? They often tell me. I stepped from my cell’s confinement. Calmly, cheerfully, firmly, like a squire from his country-house.
Who am I? They often tell me I used to speak to my warders. Freely and friendly and clearly, as though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me I bore the days of misfortune, equably, smilingly, proudly
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really all that which other men tell of? Or am I only what I myself know of myself? Restless, and longing, and sick, like a bird in a cage. Struggling for breath as though hands were compressing my throat. Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness, tossing in expectation of great events, powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance. Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?
Who am I? This or the Other? Am I one person today and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!” (from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Prison Poems).
- What does belonging mean to you?
- How does the fact that we belong to God change how we live our lives?