You BELONG here

“You’re no longer wandering exiles.  This kingdom of faith is now your home country.  You’re no longer strangers or outsiders.  You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.  God is building his home.  He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here –  in what He is building.” -Ephesians 2:19

It’s pretty easy to turn on the news and see division.  The media and the culture are trying to tell us we don’t mix.  We’re enemies.  We’re different.  There’s an undertone of “this is wrong”, but we as a culture continue to glorify the supposed differences between us.

I was raised singing songs like:

Red and yellow

Black and white

We are precious in His sight

And I’m so thankful that I know who Jesus is.  I belong.  No matter what I am.

We just started up with Christ Fellowship Church and the first thing you hear when you walk in the door is: “Welcome Home.”  It goes deeper than just smiling faces when you walk in the door.  It’s the kind of welcome that says, “You’re different?  You believe in something else? You’ve been hurt? You’ve caused hurt? We don’t care. Welcome home.”

I grant you there are many churches out there who have forgotten what the center cornerstone of their attitudes and beliefs is.  I certainly have visited enough of them.  I know people who have been hurt by them.  And that’s a shame.

It’s a shame because the failures of people can keep someone from knowing the complete sense of welcome that is to be found in God.  The only place I have seen people from all walks, backgrounds, orientations, colors, or religions unconditionally welcomed is when surrounded by Christ followers.

For example, Pastor Todd shared a story today about a member of Christ Fellowship.  This man and his family were born in India.  They were raised Hindu, of course, and went through all the rites and rituals.  After moving to the United States they had children of their own and decided they wanted to expose their children to the Hindu temple.  When they went, they found they were completely disconnected from the lifeless rituals.  Oddly, the mother of the children suggested to her husband they give Christ Fellowship a try – after all, it was right around the corner.  When they walked through the doors they were welcome. The man told the church members he was Hindu and wished only to expose his children to, basically, an example of religious morality they could integrate into their lives.  I love what he heard… he heard nothing but, “That’s awesome.  You’re always welcome here no matter what you believe.”

Think about that.  He didn’t have to be anything or anyone.  His family and he were unconditionally welcomed.  This isn’t just about a different system of beliefs.  It’s about a different background, color, culture, size, hair style… No one cares.  No one cares because Jesus has defined for them the value of these “strangers.”

Galatians 3:28-29 says, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.  Among us, you are all equal.  That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.”  When the Hindu man came in, he was not in a common relationship with Jesus Christ as the church members were, but he was still welcomed.  He was welcomed because they knew he *might* decide to be a Christ Follower.  Even if he didn’t, they would still be friends, no enemies.

When the Hindu man came in, he was not in a common relationship with Jesus Christ as the church members were, but he was still welcomed.  He was welcomed because they knew he *might* decide to be a Christ Follower.  Even if he didn’t, they would still be friends, no enemies.

You can guess what happened.  This man and his family are now all followers of Christ and they are paying forward the message of belonging.

So, when you turn on the news and see humanity simply not “belonging”, maybe think about the difference I’m talking about here.  I keep seeing friends on Facebook wonder, “How can we ever fix this?  How can we break down these ____ barriers?”

I’m not special.  I’m not saying this so I can be “right.”  I’m saying this because I would love to share the pure joy I have seeing and experiencing walls breaking down and unexpected or unlikely friendships being created.  It’s so ridiculously cool sitting down and talking with someone who is completely different than you, but you are one.