Life sometimes is lonely, but it should not be this way for very long. God did not make us to be alone or lonely. God made us to belong. We must have people to aid us through life if we want a great life and want to do great things. There’s a challenge to belong. This is one of the very first truths, the Bible teaches.
Challenge to Belong
by Delbert Young
Challenge to Belong
Scriptures: Genesis 2:18; Acts 15:39-40; Matthew 22:37-39; Exodus 4:14; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; John 15:13; John 15:15; Exodus 18:19-24; Romans 1:6
Life sometimes is lonely, but it should not be that way for very long. God did not make us to be alone or lonely. We must have people to aid us through life if we want a great life and want to do great things. There’s a challenge to belong. This is one of the very first truths, the Bible teaches.
Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, “IT IS NOT GOOD FOR THE MAN TO BE ALONE. I will make a companion who will help him.”
Adam tried to satisfy his loneliness with dogs and cats and creation, but nothing worked. Loneliness is not good, so God brought Eve to Adam. God continues to bring you people to be your companions. This satisfies the need you have TO BELONG. Just as BELONGING CHALLENGED Adam and Eve, you too face the CHALLENGE TO BELONG.
Throughout the Bible, people experienced and expressed the CHALLENGE TO BELONG. The apostle Paul with his seemingly harsh, CHALLENGING, personality fleshed this out. He always had a companion close by – Barnabas, John Mark, Luke, Timothy, Silas, etc. In every city, he connected with and belonged to people. It was because of this he accomplished the great things he did. If you know your Bible then you know each of those connections had its own CHALLENGE. Remember the huge argument that Paul and Barnabas got into over John Mark.
Acts 15:39-40 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left..
You will not experience BELONGING without CHALLENGES.
Jesus showed us the necessity of BELONGING. There was the profound closeness he had with his mother Mary. He was close to his siblings. Two of his brothers became apostles – James and Jude. JesusBELONGED to family. The Bible intrigues us with its description of Jesus and his closeness with friends – Lazarus, Martha, Mary, and many others. Jesus BELONGED to friends. He had a relationship with his cousin, John the Baptist, who was somewhat of a mentor/forerunner to Jesus. Each of those relationships experienced their own CHALLENGE. BELONGING is not without CHALLENGE.
Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and GREATEST COMMANDMENT. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus said the greatest – highest – levels of life are connecting and BELONGING to God and connecting and BELONGING to people.
The central theme of theology is the BELONGING needs of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They need to BELONG to each other and they need to BELONG to us. God created you in that image. You need God. You need people. It is through that need that you come to a true understanding of who and what you are. We must belong to be fully ALIVE. BELONGING grounds you in who you are and nurtures you throughout your life’s journey.
Moses, one of the most solitary characters in the Bible, found he needed to BELONG if he were to accomplish anything truly great. As long as he was alone in the wilderness, all he could do was watch some sheep that were not even his. God had something far greater for him to accomplish, but it would requireBELONGING. His brother Aaron and his sister Miriam were necessary – family. There would be Joshua and the elders – friends/coworkers. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, would play a part – mentor. There wereCHALLENGES with each connection, but because of people, Moses became great. Let’s look at four principles of BELONGING and gain some life lessons.
(1) BELONGING TO FAMILY. The things that happen in your family play a huge part in the great things that happen in your life – great family, great life. Family scripts you. Moses’ was no different even though Moses did not experience the “perfect” home. He was “adopted” and raised by a single parent – Pharaoh’s daughter. Yet, Moses never lost touch with, or lost the need to BELONG to his origin. In fact, the Lord told Moses he needed his family to accomplish what Moses was to accomplish.
Exodus 4:14 “…What about YOUR BROTHER, AARON the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.
Moses needed his brother and his sister. Moses needed his family and so do you. There is something aboutBELONGING in family that takes life to its greatest potential. Interestingly, the apostle Paul said this…
1 Timothy 3:4-5 He must manage his own FAMILY well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
This is not simply a leadership requirement. The truth is, belonging begins with family. It does not mean that you must have a perfect marriage, perfect children, and perfect home. Were that the case, no one qualifies. The verse merely shows the understanding and importance of BELONGING. The point is, if a person at home, in family, where he or she is the most vulnerable, makes the most mistakes, and is the most uncovered, maintains a BELONGING connection, the person is experiencing something great and is capable to share with and lead others. Here are a few thoughts to help here.
- Push for PEACEand HEALINGwith your family of origin.
Sometimes issues force horrible situations between family members. If at all possible push for healing. Do not allow unfinished family business to stop you from experiencing something great. Push for healing even if the pushing has to be all “one-sided.” Realize you cannot change what happened, but neither can you become obsessed with what happened. It will rob you and family members. I have watched parents lose years of belonging with their own children and grandchildren. I have seen brothers and sisters lose years of laughs, memories, and joy over something no one could even remember and if they could, nothing is that important.
My father-in-law became upset with me once. Though I apologized and did everything I could to mend the situation, he refused to come to my house for years. He lost years of being with his grandchildren and daughter in their home, but I kept pushing. One Christmas, I purposefully sat beside him at a family gathering. I again apologized and told him I missed him and missed the wonderful times we had. I told him I wanted him to come to my house, but not only for my children and his daughter. Pointing to my heart, I said, “I want you to come.” I remember tearing up. He knew I meant it. A few days later, he came walking into our home. I remember being like a little kid getting him coffee and waiting on him. I was so excited. He came frequently after that. Eventually, he lived with us for a while. A few years later, he died. Had I not pushed, he would have died having never been in my children’s lives or his daughter’s life as he should be. He would have died and I would have felt guilt for the remainder of my days. Push, even if you are the one doing all the pushing – PUSH! You will never regret pushing. It is a CHALLENGE well worth the effort.
- Bless your CHILDREN. Children are a CHALLENGE, but let me tell you, there is nothing like connecting with and BELONGING to your children. When I say bless, I do not only mean lay hands on them and bless them. That’s ok and biblical, but if that is all you do, you have not blessed them. Blessed children are affirmed in who they are. Blessed children believe in themselves. Blessed children are positive contributors to the world. Blessed children respect God, respect their parents, and respect people. Blessed children accept life’s responsibilities. Bless your children and make the world a better place.
- If married, WORKon your marriage. The chance to journey through life with a soul mate is worth whatever effort required. However, a soul mate does not come without risks and pain. A good marriage does not just happen. A good marriage happens because two people worked hard to get through bumps, disappointments, and failed expectations. A good marriage is a CHALLENGEand happens because two people intentionally make it happen.
No matter what you accomplish in life, without connecting with and BELONGING to your family, the accomplishment will have a huge void in it. Where are you with your family of origin, personal family, and extended family? Life is not great until that part is great.
(2) BELONGING TO FRIENDS. You cannot choose the members of your family, but you do choose your friends. To experience anything great, we need great friends. Even God needs friends. Three times in the Bible, Abraham is referred to as the friend of God (2Ch 20:7; Is 41:8; Jam 2:23). Think about that friendship. God made promises to Abraham, but delayed fulfilling them. He required Abraham to do some strange things – leave his home, take his son to a mountain to be a sacrifice, etc. God also put up with Abraham’s idiosyncrasies – messing with Hagar, denying that Sarah was his wife, etc. True friendship is aCHALLENGE, but puts up with all sorts of disappointments and idiosyncrasies. With all the idiosyncrasies of the twelve disciples, Jesus, only hours before his crucifixion, said…
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life FOR HIS FRIENDS.
What did Jesus say great love involved? It involves laying down your life for your friends.
John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you FRIENDS, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
If the Lord God and Lord Jesus need friends, how much more do we need friends. Friends do not “mind their own business.” Friends know much about your business – your marriage, your finances, your children, i.e. your idiosyncrasies, yet, still they love you and will lay down their lives for you.
Friendships have requirements. You will never have friends and experience greatness without meeting these requirements. Time: Time is a precious commodity. Without investing time, any friendship will go undernourished and die. Energy: We must do something with/for friends. Emotional and physical energy is required. Risks: Any friendship requires some vulnerability because the connection is at the heart level. Heart level connections are always vulnerable. Willingness to listen: Of course, we listen to words, but more importantly, we listen to their hearts. Sensitivity: This concerns how we respond to a friend’s needs. Sometimes we should just listen, but sometimes we must be stern and honest.
Years ago, some dear friends were going through a marital crisis. We were aware they were on shaky ground and one day, the feared phone call came. The explosion happened. They lived hours away, but within minutes, we were loaded and heading to their house. We spent a few days with them and we were key in helping them through that tough time. That is what friends do. They lay down their lives for their friends. How about you? Do you have some friends for which you would gladly lay down your life? Do you have friends who would gladly lay their lives down for you? If so, you have met the CHALLENGE TO BELONG. If not, I feel so sad for you. Even solitary Moses had close friends. Joshua went with Moses up the mountain and seems to have waited forty days on Moses to come back down. Eventually, Moses entrusted all his business to Joshua exactly as Jesus entrusted his to the disciples and, now, to us.
(3) BELONGING TO MENTORS. If you will notice, great people BELONGED and connected with life coaches. You need people in your life who are “more than friends.” These people have your best interest at heart. These are people you allow and encourage to challenge you on decisions you make and directions you take. These are people you love, and who love you enough to tell you the truth. These are people, who help you become a real man or a real woman. These are people, who teach you how to live.
You need to be on the lookout for these people, for you will never have greatness without these people. Every great person can point to people in his or her life who tutored and mentored them. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE PEOPLE LIKE THIS IN YOUR LIFE, YOU NEED TO FIGURE OUT why. It is not because they are not available. The problem lies in you.
These people are usually well read. They have wisdom beyond their years. They are usually very curious people. They are not satisfied that something works. They want to know why it works. The CHALLENGE is this: WISELY CHOOSE THESE PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY GET IN YOUR HEAD. You will quote them. You will begin to think like them and do life like them. Your degree of greatness and success will be directly associated with the mentors you allow into your life. Sit at the feet of these people. Open the door of your mind to them. BELONG to them. Connect with them. Take all they will give you. If they have books or audios, use those resources. Moses was greatly mentored by his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses was wearing himself and the people out trying to make all the decisions. Jethro told Moses to delegate.
Exodus 18:19-24 Listen now to me and I will give you some ADVICE, and may God be with you… Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.
It always seems God is with us when we do what they say. Who have you allowed to mentor you? I have had many. I was thinking about several: my dad, who taught me about loving family; my father-in-law, who taught me I could do anything and fix anything that I put my mind to do; my pastor, who taught me spiritual things and to enjoy life; pastor friends, who encourage me and teach me to love God’s word; some of you, who have taught me what good people really are. I listen(ed) when these people speak. Much of what I have accomplished, that matters, is linked to my life mentors.
(4) BELONGING TO JESUS CHRIST.
Romans 1:6 And you also are among those who are called TO BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST.
God created this beautiful universe for you to enjoy. Through it, you are to love, connect, BELONG to him and BELONG to people. However, many things in life attempt to entice you to BELONG to them – bad relationships, money, addictions, glamour, hell, etc. Even suicide attracts some to BELONG to it. To what do you BELONG? (VIDEO)
If you experience a great life and accomplish anything great in life, you understand the CHALLENGE TO BELONG – Belong to Family; Belong to Friends; Belong to Mentors; and Belong to Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
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