Belonging

On one of my long drives awhile back, this question popped into my head: “How would Jesus have felt about my global community?”

I was always under the impression that it was a bad thing to have such a global community. Mostly because it really sucks when there are thousand of miles between the people you love. I’m a big believer in investing in people and therefore see the value in maintaining long-term relationships.

Since I am clearly so awesome, I guess I assumed that Jesus would think the same way I do, and also think it a pity that I am not able to spend as much time as I would like with my many friends.

But upon closer look, I see that kind of goes against most of Jesus’ ministry style. He was always on the move, always travelling, meeting new people, sending people out. The other day I was listening to an old sermon which used this passage from Luke 10:

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

The sermon was on belonging, and while he had a different focus I still got a lot out of it that relates to my earlier question. Because belonging is about being welcomed, and then turning around and welcoming others. I definitely experienced that at Fisherwick. And I see it as my responsibility to welcome others. Maybe not necessarily to Fisherwick or Belfast, but to the community of believers, just like the disciples were called to do.

I’ve been welcomed BY Him, so now I need to do my part to welcome people TO Him.

In the sermon, the passage was broken down into three parts.

1. We need to go out. We’re called to take a risk, and go somewhere we’re not necessarily comfortable. In order for us to know who He is, we have to stretch ourselves. I learned so much about who God is and who I am during my time away, so I definitely agree with this statement. And even though I would love to return to all of my friends in Belfast, I have to continue to “go out”- even if “going out” means returning home. Because Belfast has become my new place of comfort, but I don’t want to get stuck in that place of comfort. Otherwise we stick to our “holy huddle” and end up pushing people away instead of welcoming them in.

2. It’s not about me. It’s about contributing to God’s greater plan.  I was having a hard time measuring my effectiveness at Fisherwick because I didn’t start any programs or leave a physical impact on the church. When I mentioned this in my exit interview they quickly corrected me and told me that I left a much bigger impact through the relationships I formed than I ever could have by starting a program. I am reminded of these relationships whenever I receive a card or an encouraging email from people in Belfast. While I would love to be able to be around these people all the time, I have to realize that just as the disciples were called to move to a different area, so too have I been called. There will be other people who will and have come in after me, and we each have different stories, different skills to bring to the table, and different parts to play in the grand story of these people’s lives.

3. The disciples were sent out 2 by 2. I’m not alone. I have other people who participated in this experience with me. Yes, they too live all over the world, but we will always have those shared memories. The great part about the intern program at Fisherwick is that it has such a legacy. Last week I was able to meet Spencer, who was an intern a couple of years before me. He is also from Seattle and was a Fisherwick favourite, so I knew a lot about him but this was the first time we officially met. It was so great to be able to swap stories with someone who had gone through the experience, knew all of the people I was talking about, and also has a deep love for Belfast.

I still think it sucks that there are thousands of miles between the people that I love. But I have to realize that this is how God intended it to be, and let Him take it from there. Because this is where I belong.

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