We Belong To One Another
Something deep down was missing, something that I tried to fill with activities previously occupied by my brothers. They were in baseball so I joined baseball, they were in the Boy Scouts so I made it to Star. The activities were fun, but were never satisfying. My relational context was summed up on the day that my brother told me to go find my own friends. As the third child my identity was wrapped up in them. I looked up to them and in a lot of ways immolated their view of life.
That all changed as we grew older and our interests were glaringly different. I made friends but life in a military family fought against depth. I left my first girlfriend to go to Greece. A year later we were living in Turkey, and because of family issues that was a short lived experience and we moved back to the U.S. Eventually we settled in Land o Lakes, Florida.
Friendships were still illusive. My high school was in a different county, my girlfriend was as long distant as if I were overseas. I bought horses and a dog who were closer than any human friend. I didn't think too hard about it, but if I had I would have seen in the core of my soul an empty place that I longed to fill, a place to belong.
God created us to belong to people like ourselves. As fulfilling as Adam's relationship was with God there was something that could only be met in Adam's relationship with Eve. She rescued him from his aloneness. They belonged to one another. Sin ruined it all. It separated humans from God and divided people. Our need to belong didn't go away, but was corrupted, perverted, and stripped of its meaning.
It is for this that Christ died, to reconcile us to the Father and each other. The Apostle Paul said it this way, "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another." Romans 7:14
As believers we belong to one another. Jesus preached this and he died to make it happen. This is a powerful statement. We belong to one another. In Christ I am yours and you are mine. When we allow sin to tear that belonging apart we mock the work of the cross.
Our faith is an individual act, but it is lived out in community. Where two or more are gathered Jesus is in the midst. The world knows we are his disciples when we love one another. The Church collective is the bride of Christ, we are a building and a body.
This past week I have been trying to get my head around the idea of belonging to one another. The world lures us away from our true place of belonging by providing substitutes. We step into places where everyone knows our name but cares little for us personally. They are fun and exciting places that are void of belonging. Investment is not expected. Everyone is accepted, but there is no accountability.
But what does it mean to belong to one another. In some ways I don't want to think too hard on the subject. The radical nature of belonging is uncomfortable. It means putting others before myself, bearing someone else's burdens, forgiving hurts, giving up bitterness, going the extra mile, and being long-suffering with insufferable people. It means to be mutually accountable, personally active, and sacrificially loving. It means sharing resources and expecting nothing in return. Belonging to one another means we rejoice with the blessings of others while we struggle to get by. It means we mourn with those in need and cry with those in pain.
The fun stuff is there as well. Belonging to one another means I get to rejoice in new found love, party at the wedding, and coo at the new baby. I get to congratulate my family for the new job or promotion. I get to share in the celebration of the graduate and participate with my brother and sisters at holidays. We worship and pray together. We call (text) one another for no reason at all. We laugh at stupid jokes and tease till we go too far. We stand with one another in the bad times and the good. Why? Because we belong to one another.
This is the nature of the church, we belong to one another. Yet, it has been diluted. As a church we love to BE with one another, but we don't want to belong to one another. Belonging means self-sacrifice and that isn't comfortable. True church isn't the smiles on Sunday morning, it is the tears and struggle during the week.
In order to experience this kind of radical life we have to cast aside our American worldly view. American individualism sounds wonderful. One man one vote, pull yourself up by the bootstrap, make it on your own, I don't need anyone frame of mine is not biblical. The opposite isn't true either, where we redistribute wealth, no accountable handouts, and a welfare state that crushes the human spirit. We need to dig past our cultural garbage and live out the truth of the gospel, we belong to one another. It transcends cultures, it connects genders, it bridges racial divides, and embraces diversity.
The Spirit of God has redeemed us to walk in the Spirit and live according to the light of his truth. Belonging to one another is deeper and richer than anything we can ever imagine. For those of us who have tasted it we want more. The kingdom of God, the bride of Christ, the body of believers, the community of the faithful, is like a man who finds a precious pearl and sells everything to purchase it. Do you want to live your Christian experience in a deep and meaningful way? It’s a radical thought to belong to one another. I’m just saying.