Did you know you were wired to want to belong? It’s how God created you. Sadly, one of the places we most expect to belong – the family – is where some feel the most alone. We live in a fallen and fractured world, where many feel lost, and wonder if they belong anywhere. Fortunately, the God who created us with that need, has also given us the place where that need can be fulfilled. I’m referring to the church.
When God, by the Spirit, calls us to himself, he is calling us to a place to belong and a space in which we can contribute. When we respond in faith to the Spirit’s call, he leads us to our place of belonging – the church. Then when the Spirit gives us spiritual gifts, he is creating for us a space in the church. It is in this space that we participate in Jesus’ mission to the world. This space is not about merely accomplishing duties or missions—it’s a relational space where we participate in the life of our new home. That’s why Scripture presents the church as a family, and as a body that has interconnected and cooperating parts.
This understanding of the church as a place and space must be experienced to be understood. When Jesus called his original followers, he did not take them into a classroom. Instead, he took them “on the road,” where the disciples watched their Master minister, and then, with fledgling (sometimes awkward) steps, they shared in what Jesus was doing.
A good example of this is found in John chapter 6, where Jesus fed 5,000 men (plus women and children). The disciples already had their place with him, but Jesus used this powerful moment in ministry to give them space – an opportunity to participate. He enlisted their input and their ideas before he began breaking up the fish and bread, which he gave to them to distribute. When all were fed, he had them pick up the 12 baskets of leftovers. Through their hands-on participation, many of their doubts about Jesus were resolved. By giving them space, Jesus was participating in their spiritual transformation.
So it is with us today. The church is our place and space to journey with Jesus as the Spirit forms us into his likeness. Of course, no church is perfect in this discipling work. Thankfully, the Spirit uses imperfect vessels like us for his perfect, perfecting purposes—transforming us one step at a time into the likeness of Christ in heart (our being), in head (our knowing) and in hands (our doing).
Are you still looking to belong? My prayer is that you will be actively engaged in a healthy local congregation where you’ll find both a place to belong and space to participate. Grace Communion International has many churches, scattered throughout the world—you can find them by going to GCI.org and looking under “our churches.”
May God guide and bless you as you journey with Jesus in finding your place and your space in the church.
This is Greg Williams, speaking of life.