Embrace your calling: You are called to belong.
God’s unchanging plan for history is to adopt you into His family, love, and live with Him forever. The second calling of life is to belong to God’s family also called the church. In this message, we talk about the five benefits of belonging, designed to meet your five deepest needs, each having profound meaning for your life.
Something To Talk About:
- In God’s family: I learn my true identity: How would you respond if you were asked to describe your identity? Who are you? Your spiritual identity is far different than your personal identity which is commonly defined by your family role or job description, personality traits, likes, dislikes, etc. Having a rock-solid understanding of your identity in Christ is essential to living your life in the way He intended. Jesus has plenty to tell you about your identity. He is so completely dependable that there is no situation He can’t walk you through. He always is available to listen to your thoughts, dreams, needs, and struggles. Jesus wants to give you direction and guidance in all aspects of your life. Hurricane-force trials don’t pull Him out of our lives. The voices of your world may overwhelm and discourage you. You may retreat from Him. But our identity in Him remains.
- In God’s temple: I am supported by others: I’m not out there on my own. I’m not a lone ranger. I’m not by myself. In the strongest structure of a building, we support and hold each other up. Not only were we created to be in a community but we also need community. There is spiritual safety in numbers. The truth is, we need each other. We need to trust, rely on, and depend upon other believers. God gave us each other to walk alongside, encourage, and spur one another in the faith. The writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25). James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” We are simply better together.
- In Christ’s body: I discover my unique value: If you want to know God’s calling for your life, you’ve got to look at what you’re good at. Why would God give you certain gifts, abilities, and talents and not expect you to use them? That would be a waste. Ask yourself, “What am I good at? What do I love to do? What is my passion? How can God use those abilities for his Kingdom?” But there’s more to life than being unique. God wants you to be unique and effective. He designed you the way He did so you could do good works. Even before you were born, God predesigned a role for you in life. God gave each person with certain gifts, abilities, and talents. The Bible says, “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other” (1 Peter 4:10a TLB).
- In God’s flock: I receive protection: When I’m not on my own. I have other people looking out for me. I enjoy safety and security because I’ve got a shepherd. And that makes me more confident. And that makes me less anxious and less fearful. I know that God is protecting me because I’m in His flock. Not just God cares and protects you but in the flock of God, we help each other. What you need in your life is people who will step up to bat for you when you need them. You need some people who walk into your life when everybody else walks out of your life. That’s what the church is for. We are to walk into each other’s life when everybody else walks out. That’s what it means to be in the flock of God. Being authentic will breed authenticity in others. Letting people see who we really are, including the mistakes and weaknesses, breaks down walls and allows others to be themselves.
- In God’s garden: I become productive: We become fruitful. I do something with my life because I’m connected to the vine and there’s life-giving life flowing through those vines and those branches so I’m able to bear fruit. If I’m disconnected there’s no way I’m going to bear fruit. God has all kinds of fruit he wants to bear in your life, but none of the fruit God has for your life will happen unless you’re connected to the church…unless you’re connected to the vine. You’re a part of the body. But nothing happens that God intends for your life, your purpose until you belong, you are connected. So get connected.
- Our fingerprints identify us as unique individuals with a specific identity. According to Ephesians 1:4, what truth should be fully realized in order to find identity in Christ?
- How would you describe “identity in Christ” to someone?
- Read Ephesians 2:21-22: God’s church is like a temple in which all the pieces of the building support each other. According to the verses above, what are you being built to become and who will live there? What does this actually look like in the lives of church members?
- Do you believe your walk with God is a community project? Why or why not?
- Romans 12:4-5 says that “each of us has different work to do.” Have you discovered the types of work or purposes God shaped you to do in the body of Christ? If so, what are they? If not, seek suggestions from other group members.
- What can the church body do to help improve your relationship with God that you can’t do individually?
- God’s church is like a garden in which people’s lives become productive and fruitful. What do you think “produce fruit” and “do nothing” mean? What do “produce fruit” and “do nothing” look like in people’s lives?
- God’s church provides spiritual security to protect and care for each of us. What are some elements of the church that provide this kind of security? What does this security look like?
- What did you hear? What point in this message was most impactful for you?
Take one thing home with you:
We live in an individualistic culture. We rely on ourselves. There are people today who attend church, but remain distant and on the margins. The problem with being a lone wolf is that they have nobody to rely on when they are struggling or in need. But here’s the thing, when a lone wolf is not connected to others in the body, it not only robs people of the opportunity to help them, but it also robs them of the joy of deeper relationships and community. 1 Corinthians 12:25 says, “This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.” Verse 26 adds, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” In other words, people want to share their burdens because God wired us this way. It’s in our spiritual DNA to care about and care for each other as one body. Though society might tell us that we can do life on our own, God’s word tells us that we simply can’t function without each other. Our walk with God is a community project. Real Christian change is often a byproduct of being in community with other believers.