Belonging to God's Family
By Charles F. Stanley
Have you every wondered why so many young people gravitate towards unsavory relationships and unhealthy activities? Involvement in things like promiscuity and gang violence can be a teenager’s way of seeking out love and acceptance or proving one’s worth. But tragically, such young men and women are seeking love from those who can never provide it—at least not in a meaningful or lasting way.
Teens aren’t the only ones caught up in this search for love. We’ve all known individuals who join committee after committee at church and become active to the point of neglecting their family and relationship with the Lord. Similarly, there are people who feel the need to go from one party to the next till the wee hours of the morning. Neither lifestyle can fulfill the longing for love—a longing that is universal among humanity in at least some area of life.
Why did God create within us this need for acceptance? His purpose was to give us the desire to become part of His family. Coming to Christ is not the only step necessary for receiving the wholeness and healing that He alone can give. We must fully accept the Savior’s ceaseless love for us and the fact that we belong to Him. Through the Son, we are counted worthy by our heavenly Father.
Believing that God accepts us is tremendously important. Why? He knew before you were born the ways in which the world would reject you. He knew there would be times when your faith would cause you to be persecuted, rejected, or mocked.
Remember that Jesus knows how rejection feels. When He was arrested in Gethsemane, His followers rejected Him and fled. One of His closest disciples, Peter, denied three times that He even knew Him.
And from the cross, Jesus cried out in anguish, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). As the full weight of humanity’s sin fell upon our Savior, the Father withdrew His presence, since He does not remain in the presence of sin. Jesus had never known a moment of separation from the Father, and had never felt unacceptable to Him. That rejection was agony for Jesus. And it’s agony for us as well. An unfulfilled need for acceptance and belonging leaves a person truly bereft—especially when it comes to the Father’s love.
God intends for us to have places on this earth where we feel completely secure and accepted. That’s the Lord’s desire for us in our families. He wants each person to have a sense of to being an integral part of a family, regardless of personality quirks or unusual traits.
The Lord also desires the church to be a place of belonging. In a local fellowship, people of many spiritual gifts and practical talents can find opportunities to serve the Lord and work together in furthering God’s kingdom on earth. The body of Christ is a place for sinners to find loving acceptance while they are encouraged to turn away from sin. The church is meant to be a place where we find appreciation as children of God—there we experience a common life far beyond simply signing a membership roll or attending regularly.
Greet others in a loving way, just as you would like to be greeted. As you do, you will receive their greeting in return. Be free and bold in telling others you love them. You’ll hear loving words in return. Accept the people in your life and give them genuine compliments. Their appreciation will form a bond between you both. Be quick to serve others, for in giving, you will receive.
There’s an old but true saying: “To make a friend, be a friend.” Similarly, to receive acceptance, give acceptance. Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38). When you grant others a sense of belonging, you will feel a greater sense of belonging yourself.
The Father calls His children to be one in the Spirit. As we unite with other believers for the purposes of praise, worship, ministry, and service, the kingdom of heaven is advanced on earth, and we discover our unique place in the family of God.
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