Do you ever feel like you’re standing outside of someone else’s ‘club’, looking in? Like you don’t really belong, no matter how hard you try?
I think we’ve all felt this way at some point in our lives, whether it’s a sporting team we haven’t made the cut for, a family where we’re the ‘black sheep’, a workplace in which everyone seems to ‘get’ the status quo but you… or a party where we don’t know anyone.
The feeling of belonging, acceptance, and security in the context of a loving community is something we all crave. But it can seem elusive sometimes.
Our family should be the most secure social connection, yet so often there is heartache and brokenness within it.
More people feel disconnected within their existing social circles than we’d care to realise.
The problem with any group of people is the people themselves. Inevitably there will be some who wield more ‘power’ than others in any group context. There’s usually at least one prominent leader or decision-maker the majority look to for acceptance and guidance. If this leader doesn’t exercise their authority well, it can lead to resentment and splintering.
The church can be a minefield of political manoeuvres and corruption too. After all, it’s run by flawed human beings. But shouldn’t this be a place of true ‘family’ – a haven people come to for acceptance and forgiveness, grace and freedom? It sometimes is. But even then, the cracks of humanity will start to show somehow. We have our own share of cracks don’t we?
Wider than the church, however, is a heavenly family we’re born into when we become Christians. We’re welcomed into the family of God. Our status changes because of what Jesus did on the cross for us.
John 1:12 says you are now God’s child. John 15:15 says you are Christ’s friend. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says you are united with the Lord, and one with Him in spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says you are a member of Christ’s body. Ephesians 1:3-8 says you are chosen by God and adopted as His child. Philippians 3:20 says you are a citizen of heaven. 1 John 5:18 says you are born of God and the evil one cannot touch you. John 15:5 says you are a branch of Jesus Christ, and a channel of His life.
As Christians we are actually taking on a new identity as Christ works in us and on us. And we’re accepted into a family that will last into eternity. Even if our church group or biological family mistreats us, we’re adopted by a God who’ll never let us down and will always look after our needs. God won’t play power games or reject us for any reason once we’re his. He is our always-loving, gracious Lord and Saviour who protects us and guides us through life’s ups and downs.
We will no doubt engage in many teams/ groups/ villages/ communities in the space of our life. But ultimately we’re on the journey ‘home’, where God is preparing a place for us. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on that promise, no matter how good – or bad – our life circumstances are. And don’t give up on your church if you are having problems. Either be part of the process of change – or find somewhere God can really use you to love and welcome others in.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2)