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Belonging is a core need of the human condition. How many of you have known someone that is not happy unless they are dating someone? That is an example of our desire to be known and yet still loved. We want to belong. We want people to see us, the real us, in an authentic way, and still like us. This need is not an accident, you were made by your creator with this longing. In fact, the gospel is all about God making a way for you to belong with Him.
There is a sign in the café when you walk in that says “You Belong Here.” One of our goals as a church is to be a place where you “belong.” But not just you, every “you” that watches online or walks through our doors, we want them to leave knowing that they “belong.”
That is what the “Gather” word in our Gather, Grow, and Give means. “Gather together like it makes a difference, Grow together like never before, and Give together like we won’t run out!” The church is not an event, the church is not a building, the church is a connected people, a family that welcomes and belongs to one another.
If you are a church member, we need you to join us in the quest to ruthlessly eliminate barriers to belonging. We need you to help us open our arms, our hearts, our homes, and our friend groups to people that we come in contact with. People are lonely. People are isolated. You might say “well, Pastor Phil that’s because of COVID.” Eh, not really. People were lonely and isolated before too, we just ignored it but now we feel it too and we don’t like it. This should open our eyes, and push us to be belonging ambassadors. Why? Because this is what Jesus did for us!
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Colossians 2:13-14
We were dead, we had no hope, we were spiritual criminals, the list of charges against us was long BUT JESUS MADE A WAY FOR US TO BELONG TO THE FAMILY OF GOD!! He canceled those charges and all the sentences that went along with them. He nailed it all to His cross. Jesus took action and fought for us to belong. “And now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me.”
Did you know that USC just hired a person with the title “Director of Belonging?” They did a study on their students and found out how lonely and hopeless they felt. They realized they needed to step in. So that is the sole job of the Director of Belonging. Help people to feel like they belong.
“One another” is such a pivotal phrase to a follower of Christ. You cannot be a follower of Christ and keep to yourself. If you are really following Christ He will lead you to people. The Bible calls this hospitality, where you welcome strangers into your home and tell them “to make themselves at home.” Essentially saying “you belong here. “Take your shoes off. Take my favorite chair. Go look around in the cabinets. We are family and you belong here.”
We each need to be directors of belonging, welcoming people into our church family and our lives. You were not made to walk alone. John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” You can’t love one another alone.
CBC needs you to be belonging warriors, finding those that feel disconnected and you connecting with them! A handshake on Sunday morning never was enough. Text them, message them, send them a gift card, bake them a pie. We need to relentlessly tear down the barriers to belonging. If you find out someone feels alone in our church, that is God giving you an assignment to make them feel that they belong. You will find that they will open up, they will share, and you both will grow closer to the Lord together.