Longing To Belong

Romans 15:7 : “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Have you ever experienced a sense of not belonging no matter how long you associated with a group of people, or how hard you tried to fit in? Perhaps it seemed that everyone else was in complete agreement about the specifics of their personal or social expectations- you may have felt like a “square peg” trying to fit into a round hole.

It is human nature to associate with people who are like us; and it seems that the more others are like us, the more accepting we feel towards them. However, it should not be this way within the body of Christ, since we should all strive to be more and more like our Heavenly Father who, as Peter understood, shows no partiality (favoring one party over another, Acts 10:34). Additionally, the body of Christ is united as one by way of faith in Jesus Christ and there is “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female”(Galatians 3:28). That is, believers belong to the body of Christ through unity of faith in Christ by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, rather than fitting in based on those distinctions.

I believe it will be beneficial in this post to examine these concepts from a biblical perspective; thereby better equipping us to help others enjoy a sense of belonging as we fellowship with them:

FITTING IN:

  • It doesn’t seem to matter if I stay or leave; I find myself participating less and less.
  • I must be like everyone else to be accepted, and so I am constantly comparing myself to others; yet I know it is unwise to measure myself by others’ standards or opinions (2 Corinthians 10:12).
  • I must do what is expected in order to fit in. Instead of freely using the gifts I have been given, I feel compelled to participate in too many activities and programs I am not suited for.

BELONGING:

  • It is clear that I am missed when I am not in fellowship. Fellow believers act in accordance with 2 Corinthians 10:12 and seek me out until I can rejoice with them again.
  • I am accepted for just being me; fellow believers allow time for the Holy Spirit to help me make needed changes. However, I know others would gently and wisely help me back onto the right path if I strayed. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you with all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another.”
  • I belong whether I conform to others’ expectations or not, because others make room for my gifting (Proverbs 18:16).

The Bible clearly teaches that we are not to focus on people-pleasing; instead, we should make our priority to please God and mature in our faith: Galatians 1:10, “For do I now pursue men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I would not be the servant of Christ.”

*Thank you to my husband, Clyde for helping with the illustration!