Summary: When we belong, we feel validated and included. When we belong, we do not feel lonely or feel like we do not matter. We become an important part of the whole.

Sermon: Belong to Believe

The clip we just watched is from the movie Antwone Fisher, which is the true story of a young man abandoned at birth by his mom. He was raised in abusive orphanages and foster homes. (Thank God for a loving family) When he turned 18, to escape homelessness, he joined the Navy where his anger came to the surface. After several fights, he was ordered to go through counseling, where his Psychologist encouraged him to find his family to begin healing. The part we watched IS his own family, which he finally found, welcoming him with a feast he had only dreamed about. For the first time in his life, he is being valued & accepted. For the first time in his life, he also belongs somewhere….MAYBE this isn’t you. Belonging is one of those unconscious needs we have. It is part of our DNA (“belonging” chromosome); that is the reason why many people find so much meaning in becoming official members of something they believe in.

When we belong, we feel validated and included. When we belong, we do not feel lonely or feel like we do not matter. We become an important part of the whole.

Even as we celebrate Easter, we cannot ignore that Jesus had a hard time fitting in... Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with pain…” THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS: Because he was rejected, Jesus understands the need to belong. If you are in that same situation, you need to know that God has a place for you in his kingdom. You are important to God. He “showed his love for us by sending Christ, his son, to die for us…” Romans 5:8

This same message of hope and resurrection has been preached on for generations. Jesus died for something. Jesus stood for something. THAT WAS YOU!!! He came (was crucified and rose again in a day like today) to rebuild an authentic community where everyone who believes in him would find [HOPE] a place to belong and believe.

JESUS WAS AN OUTCAST: he didn’t sugarcoat, stood his ground, held on to love. Like him, there are so many people now a day that have a hard time fitting in (in life), consider themselves...

a) AUTHENTICITY: He was clear about authenticity when he spoke about some of the phony religious leaders

b) EVERYONE: His message of the cross was clear: came to seek and save what was lost

c) Because he was rejected, so that we could belong and believe

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:19-22 (MSG) says, “That's plain enough, isn't it? You are no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You are no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He is using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he is using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”

According to Paul:

The cross of Christ (Which is God’s undeserving grace) makes it possible for people to come together, insiders and outsiders alike, believers and doubters, the VIPs and the forgotten, those with tattoos and those without.

• The cross of Jesus has torn down all the walls that have kept us apart.

• THIS IS WHAT WE UNDERSTAND: We are all sinner in need of redemption

God uses all of us to build his kingdom and an authentic community.

• Different bricks/stones: select, prepare, mould, dry and burn

• perfect & broken, the shiny & the dull, the sharp & the blunt, the quick & the slow,

All this is possible, Paul says, because Jesus, who is the glue that holds everything together CAME, was despised, rejected and forsaken; (but out of despair God brought new life…so…)He was crucified but on the THIRD DAY, He rose again, so that everyone who believes in him [the broken, the restored, the outcast, depraved and the hopeless] will not perish but will inherit a kingdom:

 A place away from the put-downs, the injustice, past the deadly religiosity that kills good-intentioned peopled, and beyond the disregard for human worth, A PLACE TO BELONG AND BELIEVE. You are no longer strangers or outsiders, WE AT LUMC are trying to create that place here…you belong here.

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