Summary: In Christ, we find the place of belonging that we all long for, the place of perfect truth, endless grace, and unconditional love. In the body of Christ, we find the human belonging that we need. It is in the context of belonging that we grow in our faith and are made like Christ.
Take a moment and think of where you have felt the strongest sense of belonging? Was it because of the location. . . or the people. . . or about the memories. . . or maybe it was the safety. . . or the familiarity? Maybe it is at home in your country, with your people and your culture. Maybe it is with a cherished friend who always speaks truth but always accompanies it with grace. Maybe it was with a group of people with whom you had many shared experiences. Maybe you think of several places, or maybe no place at all.
In Christ we find the place of belonging that we all long for, the place of perfect truth, endless grace and unconditional love. For all who believe in Jesus Christ, this is how our story will end, in heaven, in the presence of God, where we belong. This is the end of the story, but we have to know the beginning of the story to appreciate the end.
Belonging has been God’s plan for us from the beginning.
In Genesis 1 we read the Creation story. We read how God created our world and “it was good.” All was good, except for one thing. In Genesis chapter 2 God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone. We do not know if Adam was actually lonely or was even familiar with the concept of loneliness. He was in perfect relationship with God. Adam lacked nothing, but Adam was alone. So, God created the first woman, Eve (Genesis 2:18).
For God’s purposes in this world Adam needed a companion. God’s purposes would not be possible through one person living a life of solitude. In these verses we see that belonging to one another would be an essential part of God’s plan on earth. And so it began, God, Adam and Eve in perfect communion and belonging.
In Genesis 3 we then read of Adam and eve´s rebellion against God. Immediately, in the verses following, they realized their shame and their nakedness and sought to hide from the One who had created them. Belonging was lost. Life was no longer a journey of belonging, love, and trust. It was now a path of survival. It was necessary to hide, blame, defend and not let anyone close enough to harm you.
Adam and Eve acted as if God didn’t know and as if God could not find them. Somehow they thought that their hiding would make everything better. They were more willing to endure the pain of the separation that their sin had caused, than being exposed for who they really were. We often do the same. We ignore or justify our sin hoping to somehow avoid the consequences of it all.
Like Adam and Eve we run and we hide from God, but He already knows everything about us. In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul, talking of heaven, writes, “then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Luke 6:15 says, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts.” Hebrews 4:13 states, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”
We can run and hide from it, refuse to believe it, or rebel against it, but the fact is that all of our sins and imperfections are already, fully known by God. That is the bad news that leads us to the good news.
We fear because surely this righteous God will reject and punish us as our sin deserves, but in the midst of God knowing everything about us, scripture writes these two key verses. Romans 5:8 states, “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 8:1 tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Only in Christ can the sin and guilt be removed. In Him we can truly be ourselves, be found guilty, be forgiven, be made new and be truly loved in spite of who we are. Christ is the key to belonging. We no longer have to make the choice between being known or being loved. In Him we are fully known, fully forgiven and completely loved.
For us to experience loving belonging in our human relationships we need to first experience God's unconditional love for us. You cannot consistently demonstrate this kind of unconditional love toward someone else if you yourself have never experienced being loved in this way. As we are tethered securely to the intimate love of God we are then able to reach out and make ourselves vulnerable with others in a way that will make true belonging possible. It is definitely a risk and at times there will be pain, but if our foundation is in Christ it gives us the security to open our hearts, expose our faults, and risk being fully known by another.