Belonging where you don’t.

We have all found ourselves in an awkward social situation where we are not quite sure that we belong. Perhaps it’s a new social group, a meeting with senior leadership, or visiting a church for the first time. In these situations we often wonder if we will be accepted or if we will be able to relate to the new group. I recently found myself in a situation like this and learned a lesson about belonging that I didn’t expect.

My best friend is a highly successful military leader. Recently he invited a large group of friends to spend the weekend at a remote Texas ranch together. There were around 30 guys in all. The majority in attendance were decorated military servicemen who had seen significant combat.

Having never served in the military, it’s no surprise that I wondered to what degree these badasses would be willing to accept me into the group for the weekend. Truthfully, I wasn’t the only man there without a military background and I wasn’t the only one with that question in his head. Would being a close friend of the host be enough?

The first day found many of us floating around trying to discover how we fit in and there was obviously some palatable awkwardness. The second day we all took a 5 mile kayaking trip and that definitely broke the ice. Men bond over shared activities. While that’s not why I am writing this, it’s a fact that is worth remembering for anyone who works with groups of men.

The walls came down that evening when we all sat around the large bonfire and toasted (and slightly roasted) our friend. Once the stories we over we all had learned a ton about each other and our mutual respect and admiration for our friend. The sense of belonging and camaraderie had skyrocketed. Conversations were deeper, laughter was louder, and new relationships were forged.

The change blew me away. I wondered if a shared friendship with one man could really be enough to unify and bond all these men? I truly had no business hanging out with most of these guys, no right, no dues paid, no qualifications. Yet, there I was playing shuffleboard with the man who captured and interrogated one of our nation’s most infamous enemies.

To be honest my buddy isn’t just some guy. He’s a phenomenal leader, a great husband, awesome father, a warrior and one heck of a man. Still, I found myself amazed.

Then the Spirit of God spoke to me.

You are correct in saying that you have no right to belong to this group. It’s only because you are here as the guest, on behalf of, and at the request of your friend that you do. It’s by his account that you have the ability to fellowship with these men. You belong here because he says you do.

It’s the same way as it is with me.

You have no right, no qualifications, no standing on your own which ought to give you the ability to have a relationship with me. It’s only because of Jesus, by is account and on his behalf that you do.

You belong to me because Jesus says so.

For a Christian this isn’t some sort of new message or shocking revelation. I know that I am not righteous enough for a relationship with God. I’m a skilled and experienced sinner. It’s through Christ alone that I have acceptance, forgiveness, and fellowship with God.

I didn’t expect to see such a clear example of our adoption into the family of God on this trip. If one man can create relationship with others based on his account, how much more can Jesus do it on his?

Glory to God for our adoption through Christ.

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