A statement like this never rings truer than when you decide to invite a friend that’s new to church, and have to think through the things you’ll have to explain beforehand and the things you’ll be praying won’t happen while they’re there, Right???
We all have a desire to be around people or places where we feel comfortable, where we fit in. We enjoy knowing that there is a place where we can make mistakes and be ourselves and it’s okay. When people feel like they don’t belong, there is a sense of struggle. Most times, they will give up before they push through when they feel like they don’t belong.
Predominately, most churches today have a Behave, Believe, Belong mindset. This is the idea that if you will behave and follow the rules like we do, then you will be able to believe. And once you get to believing, then you will be allowed to belong with those of us that have already achieved this feat. But when you look at the life Jesus lived, He seemed to approach people with a Belong, Believe, Behave attitude. Jesus allowed people to belong first. People came that were considered sinners, gluttons, drunkards, and thieves, and approached Him as they were with there baggage and problems in tow. And, it was as they were able to belong, that they believed. And in believing, He did a work in them that created a behavioral change. Belong, Believe, Behave; the exact opposite of our norm.
Inadvertently, most churches, with the right heart and a true desire to reach people and be involved, still tend to be an insider type of club. As Christians, we tend to gravitate toward things that are churchy. In the process though, we make non-church friends feel unwelcomed, out of place, or like they don’t belong. Church can get churchy sometimes.
We must remember, Jesus didn’t come for the righteous, but for the lost! Luke 19 is one example of Jesus letting a “sinner” belong, well before he ever believed or behaved. Jesus called out to Zacchaeus (the chief tax collector and considered to be a Jew traitor working for the Romans), “I’m going to your house.” And at this the “churchy” people got offended, “how could He go and hang out with the likes of a sinner?” And Jesus responded in Luke 19:10, saying “the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.”
His church is supposed to be a place of belonging. When we make it difficult for people to belong because of our rules, regulations, and criteria, we hinder their possibility of finding Christ. We sometimes put up the very roadblocks that Jesus worked so hard to tear down. I encourage you to ponder the areas in your life (or in your church) that are “churchy”! Let’s remove any obstacle or hindrances that would prevent people from taking a step in the right direction. We don’t save people with our formalities and laws; He does, with grace and mercy. And people will see that when we let them belong.
Click here to read more from Cory,
our positive thoughts contributor.