In God’s family it is so important that we know that we are accepted and that we belong. I am not simply talking here about feeling OK when you go to a church. Sadly many can go to church and still feel that they don’t belong, or that they are not accepted. I guess this is because in the church we are joining a lot of others who are ‘a work in progress’, even the leaders. If the church is a community of fallen people, those who have been saved by grace, then we are going to encounter a lot of imperfection even in the best of churches.
My sense of acceptance and belonging has to go deeper than how I am treated by other people, hence the previous two blogs. If I am deeply secure in the Lord’s love and acceptance of me, even though I know there is much about me yet to be changed, then the affirmation and acceptance of others will be a great blessing. But I won’t feel rejected if it is not there, or not in evidence for some reason.
More importantly, if I find within myself a contentment with who I am, coming from that sense of belonging and acceptance with the Lord, then I will myself find it easier to accept others. Understanding and taking in, the depth of the Lord’s love for me, will help me in my acceptance of both myself, and then of others. Sadly when I don’t feel accepted myself I am more likely to be critical of others, and indignant when they appear to be more at ease than me, or have more favour than me.
Let’s hear Paul’s admonition again and note the order. First of all we hear, acceptance and belonging for ourselves in the words….
‘Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,’
Then the encouragement to be nice to others!!!
‘clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’.
He carries on with great realism that we all need grace,
‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another, forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.’
He then reminds us that our fellow believers have also been adopted and accepted and they also ‘belong’.
‘ Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.’
And what do you think comes next??
He then recognizes that need for growth and correction saying….
‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,’
With of course….. more praise and thanksgiving!!
‘and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.’
And a bit more thanksgiving to finish up with….
’And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him’. Colossians 3:12-17.
Thanksgiving helps me to feel loved accepted and belonging myself, it helps me to accept others as I thank God for His acceptance of them, and it helps me to love them and to teach and admonish positively should the opportunity arise.