I have three short words for you…YOU BELONG HERE!
I was telling some brother elders this week that there are weeks when you get into the sermon and weeks where the sermon gets into you. This past Sunday was one of those where the sermon gets into you! I’ve been so encouraged by so many of your notes, emails, and calls. We will experience moments in our lives together where the Holy Spirit seems to speak loudly to us. In these times we would do well to pay attention. In this week’s CRF I want to share a bit of my heart on what it means to “belong”.
One of the best books on belonging that I’ve read is Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness”. As she speaks of what it means to belong she shared a snippet on an interview that Maya Angelou had with Bill Moyers in 1973 that stopped me in my tracks:
MAYA ANGELOU: You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great…
BILL MOYERS: Do you belong anywhere?
MAYA ANGELOU: I haven’t yet.
BILL MOYERS: Do you belong to anyone?
MAYA ANGELOU: More and more… I belong to myself. I’m very proud of that. I am very concerned about how I look at Maya. I like Maya very much.
There is a beautiful antinomy in her words. An antinomy refers to two ideas that appear diametrically opposed to one another that actually have a perceptible but unknowable resolution. The antinomy here between belonging everywhere and no where speaks to me of the Christian life. There is no place on earth where we will ever feel at home outside of the presence of God. And yet the world is a place where we belong because God in his wisdom has chosen us to live in this place at this time.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’. (Acts 17:26-28)
It goes further…When we realize that the world is both our home and not our home, it lessens our attachments to it and increases our attachments to it. We find that hardship and persecutions remind us that our only true home is in the presence of God. [AND] We see that suffering and pain tell us what is worth fighting for this side of heaven. When we belong everywhere we see each human being as valuable and full of potential. [AND] We understand that we don’t belong on this earth in its present condition but are living and serving for a better world to come.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:18-23)
So, if you’re reading this, YOU BELONG AT FELLOWSHIP! With all of the messiness and brokenness you bring to the table, this is your home. We need each age, stage, culture, and gift present in our church family in order to reflect God’s character and goodness to each other and a dying world. Through us being in community we become wounded healers; in the form and fashion of the truer and better wounded healer, Jesus Christ. And we bear our scars so that others might find true belonging in the presence of Christ Jesus with the essence of that fellowship within the fellowship of our church. The price is high….the reward is great…you belong every place — no place at all.
Be encouraged, friend…
YOU BELONG HERE!